Sunday, 20 November 2011

Paul Newman, Smiles, and Music

I have now been in Japan for a little over two months. It has been nine wonderful and challenging weeks. Even though I have been here for that long I only officially learned how to introduce myself a week ago. Just so you don’t think that I have been completely hopeless in learning the language I would like to tell you that I know the names of several different animals, foods, how to say look, stop that, excuse me and many other very random bits of vocabulary. Most days I am surrounded by Japanese. This means that I spend a lot of time being quiet and watching others interact.
 One time I wanted to ask someone about Bonsai trees. I used the word bonzai which as it turns out is not a word. Banzai means raise your hands (or some version of that) while bonsai is the type of tree. It only took two days, a terrible attempt to draw a tree and three different people to finally understand what I was talking about. Sometimes I cause a lot of chaos over a simple word...I can't help it. Afterwards the famous quote from Cool Hand Luke came to my mind, "what we have here is a failure to communicate."
Being the talkative person that I am, I am always trying to figure out ways to communicate. Thankfully my excessive way of talking with my hands has finally become useful. When they say that eighty percent of communication is through body language, they are not lying (although that other twenty percent comes in handy). It's truly amazing how much a person can communicate with very few words. I love it! Just a knowing nod or smile from other foreigners passing by on the sidewalk makes my day. With that small gesture we recognize that we are both in the same boat. It doesn’t matter that we might not speak the same language or even be from the same country; we are foreign and therefor understand each other. That simple gesture says so much without a word being spoken. 
Today I went to a charity concert for the Let's Walk Together Project. This project helps those who have been affect by the tsunami and earthquake of last spring. The first hour they talked about the program and it's various activities. All of it was in Japanese.  I was disconnected from what was going on. But the moment that they started playing music I was involved. I was connected. Music is a way of communicating  that is for everyone. It has a way of speaking to you no matter the setting, the culture, or the language that it is in.    

Western Wear store

Osu Kannon Temple

Communication is such a  funny thing sometimes. Thanks for tuning in. Go out, enjoy some music, and another person's company.

God's Peace,

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