04 Oct A Stormy Day to Chase a Dream
Tokyo in the rain.
The sky holds onto the full silver clouds that envelop every inch of the city from top to bottom. Silver; everything was silver. It was early evening.
I sat in the back of the train with my torso turned to watch the Tokyo skyline as it left my awareness. Individual raindrops inched their way down the foggy window as we moved like a graceful serpent above Tokyo Bay.
It had taken a couple of weeks of being here in Japan with my best friends for the idea to hit me — perhaps it was fear that held me back before. The fear that this could actually happen. The fear that I could make Japan my home, that it was no longer just a dream.
The thick winter weather provided the ideal introspective setting for my imagination to run. The train screeched and rumbled as it moved along the glistening tracks — I was lost in a daze, thinking of what might be.
I could see myself for the first time exploring the streets by foot, while the rain turns this metropolis into a monochrome playground. The unexpected lurks behind every corner.
My spirit ignited while I sat squished between three other passengers who all wore, including myself, obtrusively large jackets. This might actually work.
I pulled out my phone and looked up at my friends who stood in the narrow center aisle, holding onto the dangling yellow handles for dear life.
What would this be like without them?
If I were alone, with nobody to laugh with or to converse in English. What would it be like to be on my own for the first time in a foreign place, with nobody to remind me of home? An adventure.
I knew what to do next.
I pulled up the Instagram page of Adrian Bianco, a German expat living in Tokyo who founded the online publication Sabukaru Online.
Bianco’s intensive ramen guides had been our north star as we navigated our way through Japan. He’d done it.
He started his own creative brand; he followed his heart and so can I. I began typing out the message with cold and heavy hands. Sailing above the stormy outskirts of Tokyo, I would take the first step to follow my dream.
Nerves boiled in the pit of my stomach. They transformed my face into a subtle smile which only I knew the meaning of. I didn’t want to mess this up.
I reached out to Bianco and laid it all out: first, that I was in Japan with eight friends, and his ramen guide had changed the entire trip into one which self-proclaimed foodies could only fantasize about.
Second, that I intended to follow in his footsteps by moving to Japan. He’d inspired me profoundly, and at the very least, I wanted him to know it.
Reaching out to Bianco on this trip two years ago felt like the first major step to find what lights my soul on fire. But I know, deep within my heart, I’ve been on this path all along.
Everything I am and all that I love — the rain, travel, writing, photography, art and creating — had brought me to this point. I simply want to know what’s out there. I want to learn.
When we continually ask what might give our lives profound meaning, we’re already living our dream. The asking is part of the adventure. The wondering, the roads not taken and the opportunities seized — they’re all a part of the great unfolding.
Small decisions lead to big ones. Doors open. We learn about who we are and what we love. And then, perhaps when we least expect it, the stars align. The choice is ours to walk through that door.
As I watched the beads of rain fall down the rearview window, I knew I was ready to go all in.
A few days later.
As we drifted through Kyoto, the immaculately preserved city of the distant past, Bianco responded. He couldn’t give me a job at the time writing for his magazine. But he thanked me for reaching out and added some soul-nourishing ramen shops for us to hit in the outskirts of Kyoto.
I didn’t expect to find a contract in my inbox, as if he’d been waiting for the perfect candidate to fill a vacant role. I figured it probably wouldn’t work. But I wouldn’t let the fear stop me from reaching out.
All I hoped for was a connection, for we never know which doors might unlock when we take that first step to make a change. We can’t foresee what sparks in the universe may catch from a daring act of love.
That’s what this was to me, an act of love, love for myself. Nobody would take the chance but me to live the life of my dreams. Nobody will tell us we’re meant for more, that we deserve to wake up everyday excited to face the world.
I’m not in Japan yet; it’s not going anywhere. Still, when I open my eyes in the morning, I’m damn excited to face the world. You should be, too. Only you know how to make it happen, and what first step will put a smile on your face.