Monday, June 22, 2009
Ignance is Bliss
Looking back on the days before my departure, there was one common question that repeated itself over and over. `You speak Japanese?`
And here I am 7 months later...still illiterate, and grasping all of 37 words in the Japanese vocabulary. Unlike Arabic, I have yet to learn how to curse. But that`s just because these people are far too polite to even need such words. However, I had a recent epiphany.
My neighbors in the house next door all speak English. And it is common to overhear their conversations from time to time. (Especially seeing as how their windows are about 3 feet from mine.) Obviously, what someone says in the privacy of their own home is their business. And that which gets overheard gets overheard. But what I learned from the proximity is, with English, when I hear something, I internalize it. Form opinions (on occassion.) Attach ideas and thoughts to whatever it is I hear.
Yet the beauty of Japanese is, I have no idea what these people are talking about. Their tone sounds light and playful, even sometimes amusing. For all I know they could be talking about me like a dog, but doing so with a smile on their faces. And honestly, I have no attachments. Whether they are naughty or nice is on them. I`m living..and Enjoying!
Of course there are times when the language barrier is frustrating. Especially when I feel the hearts of the people surrounding me i.e. my teammates, and I know they are good folks. The type I would be good friends with. Yet we`re rendered to the simplest of expressions. But they are some hilarious gestures, I must say!
It`s been fun, finding common ground with very little use of language. In terms of the team, we`ve been cracking up early and often as we tell stories with more gestures than words. Lately, after we finish a set on the weights, we step up... puff our chests... out and say `PARIS!` in a deep musclebound voice. That is...until one of those sets drains the life out of us...then it`s more of a girly soundin...`paris`
Although there are still times I feel a bit alienated, I`m definitely fortunate to be the type of person who is comfortable living in my own headspace. Whether that`s with the team, or on the train. It`s crazy, to be surrounded by tens of thousands of people and still feel lonely. But I`ll tell you what, if they were all speaking English, I would`ve probably left this country months ago!
2 days til our departure...then we`ll all be foreigners!