Thursday, July 17, 2014

The terrifying beauty of the unknown

Water, fish, trees...GREEN! BLUE!  What is this?? Coming out of the desert I find all nature that is unfamiliar to me terrifying.  Yes, it is ridiculous.  But I find myself walking around with so much caution every day, waiting to step on a Habu snake or have a sea creature jump out of the water and bite my head off.  Even walking on grass is scary--I can't see what's there!  What is this green stuff?!

Growing up in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, I'm used to my own variety of terrifying creatures: scorpions, javelinas, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, etc.  Except, to me they're not as scary because I know where they live, what they do, what time they come out and how shy and harmless they actually are.

In Okinawa I purchased some booties to wear in the water to protect my feet from the sharp coral (awesome for surfing), and they have helped immensely with my fear of whatever made up creature is haunting me in my head that will clearly be waiting to attack me while we're holding hands, admiring the view.  When did I become such a scared little creature?  And why do I enjoy this adrenaline so much?

Why is it fun to be scared?

The beauty of the unknown, I suppose.  Everything in Japan feels so unfamiliar, yet so welcoming at the same time. I teeter back and forth between being fascinated by everything I see, and hesitating to touch the water and wanting to crawl back into some sort of safe cave in the desert.

I used to watch Japanese cartoons, movies or even look at art and wonder how people created such unique landscapes and creatures.  Now that I'm here I see that they are not made up at all-- it is THAT different out here.  Plants, trees, fruits and vegetables that I never imagined existed.  Sea creatures and spiders and birds that I have never heard of and that I am now lucky enough to see in person.  So much beauty everywhere!

As we were wandering around a supermarket yesterday, Robb turns to me and points out the fact that it is absolutely insane that every single day we can pick something up, look at it with complete ignorance and ask "what the hell is this?" That is every single day for us--THIS IS INCREDIBLE.  I had to agree--how lucky are we to have this experience?  VERY. We are like kids at a candy store when we go shopping. I give out shrieks of excitement when I look around at all the unknown products, waiting to be tried.  Everything is so cleverly packaged, so aesthetically appealing.  So clean, and organized, yet so chaotic to my brain.

I've been studying Japanese and can now read words on signs, but not understand them.  I go from being happy and proud that I can sound out the different Hiragana and Katakana to being so frustrated that I have no idea what the word means that I'm sounding out.  I find myself mumbling random syllables to Robb while we are driving around and at this point he just smiles and knows I'm trying to remember what I learned.  When we stop at the toll booth he tells me of a new phrase he's picked up and we try to place the words into a memory bank for future use.  It's part of turning the unfamiliar to familiar for the sake of practicality.

As we leave the supermarket the sun has almost fully set in the sky and I try to not hit the cars coming towards us by reminding myself to stay on the LEFT side of the road, and I hear Robb's voice reminding me to not speed and to stay closer to the middle line and that NO, I will NOT hit the oncoming traffic.

It's like we are relearning EVERYTHING.  Relearning how to drive, how to pick out fruit, how to read,  and how to see the world, really.  It's turning the terrifying into the familiar, but keeping the fascination and the craving for new experiences alive.  It is a strange time for us, and it is beautiful.

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