It has been two weeks since I landed in Japan for the second time in my life.
I'll be honest, that morning while I was packing last minute things and then whiling away time at the airport, I didn't feel very excited. Even on the planes, in Heathrow airport, I didn't feel anything. I was just going through the motions and getting things done for a plan that had been in place for months.
A lot of it probably came down to the fact that I was nervous about coming back to Japan. I had such a good time on my year abroad, living student life in Tokyo, spending all my free time in cafés and going out with friends nearly every day. I had such a good time that, when I went back to Scotland, I started painting a beautifully rose-coloured image of Japan in my head. An image of the country that I wanted to go back to. So, as I prepared to leave this time, I was afraid I would come back and everything would be disappointing. It wouldn't meet my expectations, would be different from the mental image I had created. I started becoming anxious about culture shock, something I didn't experience the last time. I'll be honest, I started having moments where I wondered if it would all just be easier if I stayed in Scotland.
So, all that combined, I didn't feel very excited as I made my way across seas and continents over the 11.5 hour plane journey from London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda Airport.
Until Japan came in sight. Until I saw the checkerboard outline of fields and forests and mountains, far down below, from the plane window. That's when the huge grin started creeping over my face.
Waiting for baggage, going through Customs, trying to send baggage and get to a hotel room that night while being very, very tired lessened that feeling a little bit. The next day, a day of waiting around and buses as we were all herded together to get to our training centre, I didn't feel much either.
But the next day, as I walked outside into sunny, winter Japan, admiring the houses of which no two are remotely alike...
As I walked into the nearby supermarket, part of a chain which I frequented during my year abroad, and was able to hand over my long unused point card at the till...
As I navigated the Tokyo subway system once again and stepped into Kichijouji to meet Moriah, browsing through the LOFT department store, eating delicious ramen at a cosy shop with friendly staff, taking purikura and laughing over how ridiculous yet cute we looked in them...
The feeling started. The feeling of home.
It's different than what I expected. It's a quiet feeling. It's a feeling of everything around me feeling completely normal, almost as if I never left for a day, yet at the same time, having moments of deep exhilaration as it hits me in some profound way that I'm once again in Japan.
I moved into my apartment today, finally, after two weeks of work training. I went outside into my balcony, smelled the air which forboded rain was on the way, and just gazed out at my city. And I put into cohesive thought the thing I've come to realise over the last couple weeks:
It isn't about the feeling. Feelings come and go. You're elated one day and despairing the next. You're 100% confident today, and tomorrow you have no idea why you considered this crazy idea in the first place. It isn't about feelings - because they're changeable, transient.
It's about knowing your purpose, knowing your mission, and living it out. It's about every day reminding yourself of the deeper reasons. Especially on the days where you feel like you've made one huge mistake: you remind your soul that this is right. And it's not about the feelings.
But the good thing is, as you live it out whether you feel it or not, the feelings start to come too. Quietly. Not as something you're seeking, not as a high you're chasing after, but almost as an afterthought. A bonus.
And when you realise that feelings don't dictate reality, freedom comes. And allows a grin to start spreading over your face.
'The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.' (Proverbs 16:9)