Maybe it’s because I had just recently watched the movie, but all I could think about as I wandered the streets of Tokyo was Bill Murray and his japanese whiskey commercial in Lost In Translation. (Other than the moments when I was thinking holy shit I’m in tokyo…) The overwhelming sights sounds and smells that is Tokyo is one big sensory overload in the best possible way. I can’t help but smile as I walk up and down the brightly lit up streets while people yell at me in japanese. Do you want to know what it feels like to be in Tokyo? Sit in front of a tv for a few hours with loud bright advertisements being thrown at you nonstop. Afterwards you’ll probably feel mentally worn out and a little bit confused as to what you just witnessed, well now you know how it feels. The overwhelmingness of the city is even more confusing when you suddenly find yourself in the zen atmosphere of a shrine and garden. Wasn’t I just strolling through city blocks of neon lights? The result is mental exhaustion in the best possible way. Japan, you baffle me and yet I love you.
During the days leading up to my voyage and the two days of orientation, I heard many people speak of courage. I was frequently told that what I was doing was a “courageous act.” I couldn’t understand what people meant by this. I didn’t see what was so courageous about sailing around the world. To me, this seemed to be an opportunity that no one would pass up. How did any of this take courage? I turned this thought around in my mind, trying to see where the courage was going to come in to play. Did it take courage to go to a new school for a semester? Did it take courage to get on that four-hour plane ride to San Diego? Did it take courage to sit on the bus as it wobbled on the edges of steep cliffs driving us through the hills of Mexico on our way to Ensenada? Did it take courage to put myself through a temporary hell of motion sickness on a rocking boat? I couldn’t quite grasp it. All of these things didn’t seem like acts of courage, but more like happenstance or unavoidable obstacles.
Later, as the ship pulled away from the Mexican coastline and into the darkness of the Pacific, it finally hit me. Courage was what it took to leave everything I knew behind. I may know the names of the countries the ship is docking in, but other than that…what do I really know? I’ve left behind the comfort of my home, the comfort of having close friends, the comfort of my mom’s cooking, the comfort of a normal life. I stared out into the bleak darkness that surrounded me, and I knew then that I know nothing at all. But, one cannot sit inside their box for the sake of comfort. Comfort will get you nowhere. There comes a time when dreams either fade off into oblivion, or they are acted upon by the valiant visionary. I’ve chosen to act on the dreams I’ve had since forever, for the sake of adventure. And that is why this voyage has been dubbed a courageous act.