This week, we want to talk about taking time to celebrate, especially in difficult times.
Escaping the Jungle
So we just recently arrived from our short trip in the Tohoku region in the north of mainland Japan, and we had a wonderful time. We have been planning this trip for quite a while.
We have been really looking forward to a peaceful escape from the concrete jungle that is Tokyo. We have had enough of all the stress and anxiety that come with living in a big city.
Japan’s weather can be very erratic and sometimes moody, despite it being reasonably distinctive throughout the seasons. Winters in Tokyo are not pleasant, and this year’s complex circumstances have not made it any easier to escape to the revitalizing nature and sun.
Indeed, we took all the precautions necessary to stay safe and keep others safe. We practiced social distancing, never left the hotel without our masks, washed our hands constantly, and made sure that no unnecessary interactions were had.
We were quite pleasantly surprised with the preparedness and the compliance displayed by the staff at most stations and the people living in the areas we visited.
Overall, we had a wonderful time and made many memories that we will treasure.
Nevertheless, the point that I want to convey with this is the following. Allowing yourself to celebrate and have some levity is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, especially in trying moments like this.
Now, we don’t want to encourage any recklessness or irresponsibility. We clearly spared no actions to ensure that our trip will be safe. We knew the risks and assessed the mandates and measures given by the authorities. And we compromised where we had to.
Our health was the top priority.
However, we decided that we needed to take this trip now instead of delaying it further because the benefits of refreshing our minds and spirits would far outweigh the risk of infection.
Our bodies needed the nourishment of nature and our minds the vast freedom of the countryside. Without it, we would just be debilitating ourselves further against the equally likely exposure in Tokyo’s crowded trains and public spaces.
Finding Joy and Levity
Moreover, we weren’t the only ones looking for the nourishment of the outdoors and a return to a familiar, albeit diluted, normal. We saw many locals in the areas we visited struggling to find ways to enjoy and celebrate their traditions —in a safe manner.
Festivals, museums, even food stands along the streets; everyone had that energy of longing to return to a more familiar world. To connect again with the vigor and joy of their culture, enriched by the festivities of the season. We were a poor cop-out for the turnout they may have hoped for, but we did our best to bring some sense of normalcy and warmth.
I’m not going to lie. It was tough for us to see how barren and desolated the towns sometimes felt. Nevertheless, I was touched by the hospitality and love the locals pour into their community. It re-energized us and inspired us to give back.
So here we are, ready to tackle the rest of the year with fresh spirits and a whole heart. And we hope that you find some way to bring joy and fun to your life in these difficult times —safely. You deserve it.
We will be sharing photos and maybe some videos with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here is a teaser.
Stay safe; stay well.
We love you.
Cover photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash