Okay, I didn’t have to go, but my plane ride from Indonesia to Seattle where I will be living for a while happened to stop in Narita Airport, Japan, which is only an hour train ride away from Tokyo. With an 11 hour layover, I didn’t want to stay at the airport, so I found the arrival gate and checked into Japan.
My large backpack was checked luggage, and would be transferred to my later plane. So I only had my small backpack and my guitar. I had to go through customs and write down a hotel I was staying at. I only wanted to spend like four hours outside the airport, but they still wanted a hotel. So, I wrote Air BNB, and no questions were asked about it. When they asked how long I intended to stay, I wrote 1 day. It seemed funny to the woman at the security check. Why come all the way to Japan if you only want to stay for 1 day? My answer was that I was only in Japan for a few hours, and felt like I needed to leave the airport and get a feel for the country.
I am glad I did.
The train brought me through the amazing countryside. The structure of simple Japanese houses is absolutely beautiful. The houses seem to blend with the land, with rustic colors and gardens incorporated into the landscape. I saw many home farmers out in their yards working hard. I had a general feeling of extreme respect. I could tell that the Japanese people held respect for everything as a high value.
While I was in Japan I never handed money to anyone. Money was transferred first to a small tray placed on the counter, and then the recipient would pick it up. It never went hand to hand. Also, when I was exchanging my rupiah for yen, the man behind the counter finished counting, set up the money in neat rows and piles, and then placed his hands over the tray, palms together, and bent his head for a slight pause, long enough for a prayer.
These experiences with money had an interesting effect on my view of the nature of money. To have such a respect for the transfer of currency made me realize how little I respect my money. I am not nearly grateful enough for the money that I do have, and the opportunity that I have in my life to make money. It’s like money has lost its essence. We replace the idea of money with materials.
I once studied an idea about language that said people lose their sense of an actual word after repeatedly hearing or saying the word. The word then becomes the object that the word represents, and some people forget they are even saying or reading the representation of the word. I think understanding this has helped me to learn other languages at a fast rate. I can access the image of the word in my mind and then simply replace the word. It’s the same file of the same image, just now with a different word. Now, when I see that image, the representation, or the word, that comes to mind has changed. Do this over and over, and you’ll start to only think of the new representation and forget the old one. In other words, you’ve learned a new language.
It’s the same idea I have with money. Money represents objects, and people have in their minds completely replaced the representation with the object, consequently having little or no respect or awareness of currency itself. They just know it gets them things. But it’s like with anything in life, if you give it thanks and attention it will give you more. If you thank your food for going into your body and aiding in your body’s processes, then the food can change its energy and heal you even more. If you appreciate the beauty in a landscape or a painting, it will in turn give you loads of healing energy. It’s the power of appreciation and respect. The point is not to gain the object of respect’s admiration, but is actually quite selfish. Respect for other things fills the self with overwhelming, natural energy.
In the case of money, I want to learn to respect it more. I want to thank money for being in my life, whether it is for years, a day, and thank it for where it will go. As words can help us create an image of an object without ever seeing the object, money can help us obtain the objects – food, shelter – that we desire and once lacked. For that we should be incredibly grateful. Money allowed me to be a traveler, to experience Pulau Weh, Banda Aceh, Medan, Bukit Lawang, Binjai, an airport in Taiwan, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Tokyo. For this and for everything in the future, I give money thanks and respect. I promise to put more loving energy into my money, so that the next person who receives it can grow and find what they truly want in life. If everyone energized money in such a way, eventually every time you received money you’d be receiving a blast of motivating energy that could help you achieve amazing, non-coincidental things that you were meant to achieve. When this man I met in Japan seemingly blessed my yen, I just knew that it would bring me amazing things. And he didn’t give it to me, I was forced to make the choice to take it into my hand. The power of choice is hugely energizing, when you realize that absolutely everything you do in your life is by choice. Taking that responsibility can be extremely empowering.
The city of Tokyo itself was cold and wet. I was only there for a few short hours, and didn’t get to really study where to go and what to see. I had flip-flops, shorts and my one sweatshirt that I brought with me. I was, in essence, freezing. It was raining, and about 45 degrees.
I ended up seeking shelter in what, from the street, looked like it was going to be an underground transportation system. But when I got down it was a network of restaurants and shops, filled with business men and women in really nice clothes. It seemed that this was the place to come for lunch for the workers in all the tall fancy buildings. Despite my ridiculous looking nature, I didn’t get many stares at all. I am under the impression that the Japanese are far too respectful to stare.
I found a nice little place to eat some sushi for lunch, walked back to the train station and took the train back to the airport. All in all, I was in Tokyo for 2 hours. My experience in Japan made me realize that I want to spend more time there, preferably deep in the country. I felt truly powered and drawn to the land. The feeling coincides with a theory I’ve come up with, that I grew to be an elderly Asian woman in my previous life. As soon as I get the chance, I will be going back.