Second day of the blogging challenge and I missed the deadline for my ‘B’ entry. I’m still a little bit laggy on this writing every day thing!
Moving forward, I wanted to share my thoughts about believing in one’s self. My Japan Plan was difficult, strange, exciting….and the results were much more than that. There were definitely downs, but the ups were so heartwarming. Now that it’s over, I don’t think I could have done this any other way. It has nothing to do with the transport available to me, or the geography of my trip, or the time allotted to achieve everything I wanted to achieve. It has everything to do with believing in myself. Often I had to put my faith in others (embassies, friends, public transport, etc.), which caused a lot of unknowns and unpredictables. When I arranged anything that didn’t go according to planned, i had only myself to blame. I prefer it that way. It means I take full responsibility for what I’m doing, even if I can’t always control the results.
Because I believed in what I was capable of, I lost 10 pounds walking through Japan because it was more fun than missing the scenery underground in a train or metro (For the record, I didn’t need those 10 pounds, so that was a nice bonus!). I have multiple disabilities, but I soldiered on anyway. Yes my bones ached at the end of almost each day, but I wouldn’t stop. I believed the pain would eventually subside. A hot bath, a foot soak, a good night’s rest..no biggie if I needed a little bit more self-care than when I’m lazying around my apartment back home.
Because I believed, I climbed my version of Everest. On a cute bunny island outside of Hiroshima, I climbed and climbed. People go to Okunoshima to play with the rabbits, but I was more impressed by the island itself. What a gorgeous place! I scaled a seemingly never-ending hill – alone. Everyone else visiting the island seemed to vanish all around me and I wondered if I’d been possibly abandoned to the bunnies. But i had to reach the summit. I was curious what I could see up there, because halfway up the uneven stairs, I saw the most beautiful sight of my entire trip. I was at once taken aback and mystified. I remember vocalizing ‘Oh wow!’ like a broken record.
Alas, dusk was falling and I had to take a decision. Either I continued up my “Everest” until I reached the top, or I chose to go back down before it got too dark to see my footing. Being visually impaired means thinking ahead to make sure one’s surroundings will be safe in 10 minutes, half an hour, 2 hours. The staircase had no lamps, and was surrounded by relatively dense forestation. If the sun went down while I was 500 steps above sea level, I knew I’d have a harrowing way back down.
So I sat on a step, took some photos, breathed the fresh ocean air, and wished I could live here. And then slowly and carefully counted my way back down to bunny territory. 373 steps of varying heights and slants, plus 2 slopes later, I knew my thighs and knees would be whining the next day, but I didn’t care. Nature and time were against me so I didn’t get to the top, but the 373rd step became my Everest. I’d made it. It was the end of my trip and I’d survived the Pacific ocean in a freight ship, Shanghai my nemesis, and this pretty spectacular climb. I would be leaving Japan in a couple of days, and Okunoshima was one of 2 bucketlist places I’d wanted to see.
The second place was Itsukushima, otherwise known as Miyajima (“Shrine Island”). It was my final farewell to Japan, and I stayed until the last embers of daylight. Since the way back to the closest train station was well enough lit for me to not get lost or hurt, I wasn’t in as much of a rush to leave as I was on Okunoshima. Still I had to look out for wild deer, tourists and uneven ground. But it was worth staying late to be able to meet the famous orange torii up close and on dry land. I was eager, and braved the mucky sand a bit prematurely compared to other nearby tourists. Hiking boots cared not, so neither did I! At high and low tide, the shrine is lovely, but at low tide, it’s quite interesting to get up close and see all the tiny barnacles stuck to the structure.
I noticed coins wedged between barnacles. I think other people were there to Believe too, and left traces of their wishes. Perhaps they had wished upon their yen, that they could return here soon some day. In my case, I knew some day would be far far away, or maybe never. It was with a bit of a heavy heart that I left the giant torii. On the other hand…leaving the island, and then Japan itself, somehow I knew this couldn’t be the last time I’d be in this country.
That’s why it’s important to Believe. I’ve done it once, climbed “Everest”, and overcome so many challenges. So why not believe it could happen again? Everyone should believe in what they are capable of. If you fall down; if China refuses to grant you a visa, try again! Get up, and believe and GO!