The Majesty of Being Lost in Translation

I dropped a piece of pizza crust on the ground tonight during my dinner and immediately felt like someone punched me in the gut. A month and a half ago, my sweet fur baby boy, Bambino, would have quickly swooped up this crumb. There are so many memories and similar incidents in the past month that have created this unwanted grief.

Bambino, may he rest in peace 4/8/2005 ~ 9/29/17

Prior to leaving for Japan, I’d been shoving it all down, somewhere deep in my gut. I had been shoving so much of it down that I would spend entire days with stomach pains. I would ask myself why am I feeling this way, but I knew. I knew it was the grief. I’m no stranger to loss and I’ve become an expert in picking myself up when I’ve fallen down. My trip to Japan was going to be a much needed ten-day distraction. The Universe, however, had other plans as it so often does.

En route to Kyoto, I had an hour or so more to kill during my half-day trip to Nara. Instead of making a right toward the train station, I took a left having no idea where I was headed or what I was going to do. Almost as soon as I rounded the corner, I was beckoned toward a beautiful shrine and cemetery tucked behind a very busy street. I found a bench and sat down underneath a beautiful midday, clear, blue sky. I was taking in my surroundings when out of my peripheral, I saw an old Japanese man making his way up the shallow steps. We made eye contact and he bowed. I returned the immensely respectful gesture I came to love during my time in Japan instantly. He disappeared into one of the buildings surrounding the shrine.

Lost in translation in Nara, Japan
Entering a shrine in Nara, Japan

The Release

Almost as soon as he disappeared, I began to weep. The tears were just streaming, right there on the bench, in the middle of the day in a public setting. Thankfully, I was alone. I was weeping for the loss of my mother, the loss of my father, my fur babies, and all of the forevers that became temporaries. I was weeping tears of joy and gratitude for my presence and my health. I was weeping because my mother never had the opportunity to travel and I know wherever she is, she’s so proud of me. I was weeping because I’m proud of myself, my strength, my perseverance, and my fearlessness.

Me sitting on a bench at a shrine by myself in Nara after bawling my eyes out

Gathering myself, I wiped away the tears from my eyes, breathing the cool, Fall air into my lungs. The elderly Japanese man emerged from the building. I was no longer alone. He deliberately began walking toward me, his hands clasped behind his back, wire-rimmed glasses hanging low on the bridge of his nose.

Gracefully Lost in Translation

The Japanese, in general, tend to be a culture of respecting one another’s space. When he walked so closely to me that I caught a whiff of his less than subpar breath, I slightly tensed up. Then, he smiled revealing several silver capped teeth, and I instantly warmed up. He spoke to me in his language. I had absolutely no idea what this gentleman was saying to me. Reiterating that I don’t speak Japanese, I returned the smile. I asked him if he spoke English. He didn’t and he proceeded to say a couple more things to me in Japanese as we politely exchanged several more chuckles. I apologized once more for my lack of understanding. He laughed, a big smile across his face. Bowing once more, he then turned away to leave the shrine.

As he retreated, I felt an enormous sense of comfort from his brief presence. It was a moment I wished I could have recorded to show the world – visible proof that we don’t have to be from the same place, practice the same customs, worship the same God(s), look like one another, or even speak the same language to share a connection. I have no idea what this man was saying to me, but I know that there was absolutely no malice or negativity in his deliverance. I was so open to the Universe’s message in that treasured moment. I’ll be forever grateful for that moment of being lost in translation for I don’t believe I was lost at all.

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