Because I am workaholic, leaving my work behind to travel for even a few days was never an option. I am a digital marketer and I know if I don't come in for a day hell would break lose! So, going on a trip never really crossed my mind. My dear friend convinced me it's the right time for me to take some time off and reflect. I am the kind who would plan my work months ahead, one who cannot sit idle, one who would work long hours and be extremely happy with it.
My dad loves to travel, he has is own organization that helps him travel whenever he can. This time he asked the whole family (mom, sister and me) to join him for a conference in South Korea and a small chill trip to Japan before that. Knowing me, the first thing I did say was "NO" without giving it a thought, followed with yelling and ultimately with a "Fine, I'll go".
Flight delayed and we had a couple of hours to kill. I had my laptop with me, so I decided to read a little bit about Japan, places to go, drinking spots and the culture. It got me quite excited knowing that the Japanese are quite kinky and loves karaoke.
In the hotel, I did have some time to kill. In came Tinder and swiped right to an interesting man and we spoke for a short time before I had to run for dinner with family.
I met an Australian manager who suggested that we should go to Shinjuku for the real Tokyo experience. All pumped up and ready we (sister & I) left the hotel at around 11 pm. Reached Shinjuku and my world changed! I have never seen a town where every single waking human there was drunk and happy! It was vibrant and filled with people. The whole town was bursting with music and LED lights and alcohol. It was my haven! We bar hopped, ate different delicious street food, met so many different kinds of people. There was so much to take in!
A while later, we went to an open karaoke bar and it was small enough to contain 15 people at a time. Overwhelmed and didn't know where to start, a Japanese fellow came to my rescue. We sang Japanese songs with English subtitles and ended with bouts of laughter. Eventually, I was hunting for Maroon 5 songs and heard a voice saying, "Maroon 5 fan, eh?" and couldn't be happier to find someone who loves Maroon 5 as much as I do. After a few rounds of embarrassingly ruining the songs, I decided to move outside and start socializing. I got myself introduced to a bunch of French men who were out celebrating a friend's bachelor party. Eventually end up making friends from Thailand, Mexico, Korea, and England. We talked about politics (just a little) and philosophy. They were in their early 30's and some of them pushing 40 but none of them seem to give high regard to corporate life. None of them cared if they didn't have a job the next day, saying, it would be nice if that happened because they would get to travel.
Then I met John (name changed), the most carefree, honest, gentle and absolutely lovely individual I've ever met. He mentioned one too many times that I am worried about the inevitable, that I am focusing on something so trivial that I am losing my years because of it. He said that I was just young by age and I am living a life of an overworked 50-year-old with no set goals. It felt like a lighting thunder hit my brain, I paused and looked around and saw happy faces, not just happy for the time being but happy because they were happy from the inside. I realized I was just happy for the time being, because when I get back home, I'll be going back to a routine set by someone else. I felt I was living someone else's life. That's when I knew I have to do something and now!
The night continued till 5.30 am, dancing and chatting and debating. Learned much later that John was the guy I was talking to on Tinder (small world, ha). First time ever, I didn't want to come back, I wanted to stay and learn and enjoy life in its real essence.
I felt like a new person (literally like when Neo was reborn in Matrix). I saw the world in a different light, I was appreciating the smaller things, I didn't rush and enjoyed every moment. Eventually, I quit my demanding job and then soon joined somewhere that let me explore my true identity.
A trip that changed my life, thanks to my friend and everyone I met in Japan.