24 Sep A Dream Turned Reality — My First Day Teaching English In Japan
Today is my first day of teaching English in Japan. Yesterday my training group received our first day’s schedules. One of our trainers started cracking up as he handed me mine.
“This is the weirdest schedule I’ve ever seen,” he said in his cheerful Australian accent. “It’s so Vinny.”
That made me smile. Perhaps he knows I’ll take whatever opportunity I’m given and make the best of it. It tells me that over the past few weeks, I’ve been silly, I’ve been open, and I’ve proved that I’m just happy to be here.
Or maybe it’s just funny.
These past few weeks have been nothing but laughter, joy and encouragement. I did not expect to be a part of a training team which quickly became more than co-workers, but genuine friends.
Not just with one another, but with the trainers, too. It could have easily been otherwise. Coming to Japan — a country that often feels like a stark contrast to home in the States — had the potential to overwhelm me completely.
At my core, my essential way of being has remained. I’m still me, doing what I’ve always done, and the sun of my inner solar system burns brightly in the way it always has.
But the planets around me have shifted — their orbits are unknown. I know not what lays in the surrounding dark matter, and it’s daunting; but it’s also electrifying, as it brings me to life exploring what’s out there.
It’s difficult to navigate such uncharted terrain on our own. But with this group, I’ve felt a part of something truly wonderful.
Last week, after a night of pouring rain and heavy winds, the air felt cool and fresh. After nonstop days of humidity and heat, this was the first feeling of fall. The chill in the air felt glorious, and on my break during training, I ambled through the nearby Ōsaka Tenmangū Shinto Shrine.
On my return when across the street from our building, the head trainer walked out with his arms outstretched to his sides, marveling at the cold weather.
“It’s the first cool day since May!” He remarked with a smile in his melodic Welsh accent. We passed one another in the middle of the road, and from the other side he looked back and asked: “Arrows of Youth?” Recalling the title of my book.
We talked about it for a moment that day, as he’s a writer, too.
“That’s right!” I replied.
“What’s it about?” He asked in haste, walking backwards down the other side of the road. I gave the answer as succinctly as I could: “A road trip I took through California and the Pacific Northwest!”
“That sounds interesting!” He called back sincerely. The moment was simple; he didn’t have to remember the book’s title. He didn’t have to ask what it’s about, nor did he have to order the book. But he did.
He, nor any of the other trainers, had to show any inkling of care about this flock of teachers who are really students too, who aren’t just starting new jobs, but new chapters in their lives. But they have. I’ll never forget that.
I now glide through the outskirts of Osaka on my first day, putting that weird schedule into effect. I’m heading to Goido, a school about an hour from my apartment in Osaka. The day is warm and I’m surrounded by others on their Saturday commute.
Years back, months back — if I were to see this moment, I wouldn’t believe it. It’s all worked out in ways I never could have imagined.
The shoulds, the ifs, the paths I could have taken — the days when I wanted to give up on this dream of moving to Japan and settle for something less just to give myself a break from wondering — none of that matters.
I’m here, amongst the small industrious towns we swiftly fly by, their steely nature counterposed against the verdant green hills in the distance. This continual image of industry and country fills the landscape of my vision, reminiscent of times I’ve had and journeys to come.
My dream’s become reality. Every day I climb; towards what?
Not my potential, and not what I should be. I climb as what I am, somebody who will make mistakes, somebody who’s willing.
I’m willing to do this thing. There’s nothing I would change, not the moments of doubt and the times I’ve worried, because all that fear, all that not knowing what life’s supposed to be, has led me to this moment.
The times I wanted to quit on this dream nearly broke me, because this — this moment on the train — it’s more than just a new chapter.
It’s proof that when we believe something’s possible, we can make it happen. It’s proof that we may live our lives by design, not inevitability, based on what’s supposed to be.
There couldn’t have been a worse time than Covid to move to another country. My desire had to dim time and time again; but it never faded completely. I stoked the flame however lightly, and never let the fire relinquish completely.
I believe that’s what it takes.
I believe that’s the only way to make it where we want to go, not with sudden, daring sprints of passion; not by showering a plant every so often with a storm, but with consistent mists of water, sunlight and love.
It’s a long life, where every day builds upon the last slight step we take.
Shower your dream with a bit of water today — it’ll bloom in time. Until then, enjoy every waking hour of the journey as you watch it grow.
The journey is everything; this is only the beginning.