Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Ray Bradbury is the greatest. His stories are so vividly full of emotion.
Just read some Bradbury, and I'm sitting here with swing music running, tapping my foot...
Saturday, August 28, 2004
For my coworkers who came to Japan without any knowledge of Japanese language and culture, it must be hard. It's harder to make friends, harder to do everyday things. The difficulty in communicating can make you feel disconnected, alone.
My appreciation for this was renewed with my visit to Thailand. People there in general speak English with difficulty, and I for one don't read any of the beautiful Sanskrit alphabet that Thai is written in. So I felt a little disconnected.
Thursday, I only had classes for the first half of the day, so I wanted to go out to see the city. But, I took a walk 15 minutes away, and turned back to the hotel. I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want merely to be an observer of things.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
This week, I have confronted fears of mine, and succeeded against them.
Tuesday saw me work through a teleconference on a product I'd never supported before. The conference was between our counterparts in the states, and a sales guy and technical marketing guy, and myself. I listened closely to the technical discussion, repeated for understanding, and took on responsibilities.
At a market update meeting that afternoon, I asked questions about things I was unfamiliar with, and phrases I did not understand. My sales manager laughed, but I understand now that it is because he likes me.
Wednesday morning, I spoke Japanese with my Japanese teacher with confidence that I retained from Tuesday. She noted it - that that day, I spoke fluently, without concern that I'd had before for grammar or vocabulary errors. I knew that I was able to convey my thoughts.
I lead a teleconference on one of my sales projects, between us and our counterparts in Malaysia. I was able to straddle the role of speaking two languages, translating when necessary, and I found to my surprise that I had more technical knowledge than I thought.
Thursday, I facilitated a training session to our distributors, giving the introduction in Japanese. Something that a week ago, I would have been very nervous about.
All of these fears were inside me, and it may seem that compared to really frightful things, these fears are unremarkable. But to me, they had been sources of worry. Doubts about: My Japanese ability. My technical comprehension. My ability to learn. My ability to understand. My ability to speak. In Japan, these fears are all the more focused and apparent.
And it is an exhilarating feeling of freedom to face them off.
Repeatedly in Japanese ghost stories, the souls of the dead wander because they are troubled by something that happened in life. But sometimes a living person listens to the ghost, shows it some compassion, and the ghost is at peace, and ceases to haunt. So it is with ghosts, people, and my own fears.
Monday, August 16, 2004
In the public square in Ebisu, people often take their dogs for walks.
And, I notice, they let their dogs socialize with one another. I saw two dogs play-fighting each other this evening. Their owners kept them on a leash, to pull them back from each other in case they got too rough, but otherwise let their dogs growl, bark, and tumble with each other. They had the confidence that their dogs were only playing, and wouldn't do each other serious harm.
And it is not the first time I have seen this.