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More posts from abroad (and sorry that they're a little out of order)

Tokyo, October 28

So, here I am on the platform waiting for my train to Chigasaki station. Yesterday when I called Matsui he suggested I take the 9:30 train, but today when I talked to him he suggested I take the 10:00 train. Of course, I called him from the train station, so this wasn't exactly welcome news. I briefly considered going and having a cup of coffee somewhere, but with my pack on my back (it's gotten inexplicably heavy in the last five days for some unknowable reason) going almost anywhere seemed like too much work, so I came down to sit on the platform and write instead.

I can't quite get a wireless connection to the hub at the hotel, although I can see the hotel from here, so I'll have to post this later from somewhere else, lord knows where or when. Oh well.

Well, the group has finally left. It was interesting to travel with them in a lot of ways, and challenging. I'm glad to be on my own. There were several people I really quite liked and would have liked to have gotten to know better, and many people about whom I was entirely ambivalent, at best. I don't think group travel is really for me. Too much seeing other people's sights on other people's schedules, and too much reporting to people and waiting on people.

I went for a walk by myself in Okinawa after letting people know where I was going to be and when I would come back and came back after about an hour or an hour to find my roommate flipping out because I shouldn't be out walking by myself at night in one of the safest countries in the world, where even the guidebooks say that walking by yourself at night as a woman is perfectly safe. I did a little reflective listening to her concerns, but certainly made no promises that I wouldn't do it again. I'm not terribly open to hearing that I "made someone worry". The choice to worry was hers, not mine, after all, and I'm not going to choose to feel guilty about taking care of my own needs (the need to get away from a large group of unfamiliar people for a little while and get centered, for example).

I don't even get the impression that the head people are particularly worried about what I do. In fact, they encouraged me to do my own thing if that's what I wanted to do. For the last day I let them know that I had decided I'd like to do my own thing, and that I wasn't upset or anything, and they laughed at me for feeling I needed to clarify that. As they said, "You paid a lot of money to come on this trip, you might as well do what you want to do."

I think that we, as adults, get to choose the risks that we want to assume and the limitations we're willing to live with. These are very much connected. I'm not willing to live in a limited world all the time, and I'm especially not willing to live with extra limitations related to being female that don't apply to men.

I walk confidently wherever I go. I am aware of my surroundings. Heck, I even study martial arts, though that isn't why I do that. I'm certainly willing to take the extremely tiny risk (and it is a very tiny risk) of being mugged or attacked or worse if it means that I get to walk down to an Okinawan beach at night in the summer warm and see fishermen night fishing and hear the water and smell the sea and take beautiful pictures and listen to music and write and just feel myself at one with the quiet warm night for a little while.

This is my risk to choose, and so I choose it. Some people seem to be of the opinion that if there's any risk at all, no matter how small, you should choose to limit your life to avoid it, and that's sad. Even those people are completely avoiding looking at the very real and far more likely risks they take every day by getting in their cars or any number of other things. That's because they can't limit their lives that much or they'd never have any life to live.


All of a sudden your post reminds me of a song...
Life is not tried, it is merely survived when you're standing outside the fire

so yeah, it is sad. Sometimes I wonder what is a small risk - and what is a big one. That takes trying.

February 2010

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