All The Time in the World

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If downtown Los Angeles is as big as the salt bowl on my table, then Tokyo is the size of the table. An endless sea of skyscrapers and neon, all connected by a vast underground subway system. If I wanted to be constantly on the move while I was there, I would have had no problem. I could have exhausted myself and barely scratched the surface of everything Tokyo has to offer. But on this trip that wasn't my goal. More than anything, I was eager for a change of pace and environment. It just happened to be in Tokyo.

There were so many reasons for me to not go on this trip with my husband. It made way more sense for me to stay home, dote on Tilda, and take advantage of an entire week to focus on my book, which is due in, oh, three weeks. But when it comes to travel, I rarely make the logical choice, so off to Tokyo I went ~ not even because I was especially interested in seeing anything new, but because I wanted to visit my favorite spots. This was my fifth trip to Tokyo (something I can still hardly believe), and because I only had three full days there, I went with no agenda except to spend time in the places I loved most.

I did, indeed, visit those places, enjoying the strange blend of anxiety and sense of adventure I always feel trying to figure out the Tokyo subway system. It is totally manageable, until a ticket is inserted into the turnstile and a red light flashes a message that says "See attendant!" This happened to me about a half a dozen times before I finally figured out the system of changing tickets at one particular station. So by the time the day of our departure arrived, I had it down pat. Victory!

When I wasn't in the midst of one of my shopping rampages, I was simply wandering, watching, and daydreaming. There was one morning when I sat on a bench with my iPod plugged in, listening to music while watching everyone going about their day. As I sat on that bench, I relished the feeling of invisible-ness ~ that no one in the world knew precisely where I was, and no one walking by gave me much notice. It was just me and my music by a market in Roppongi, and I had all the time in the world. How often do I let myself experience this sense of quiet being? Not nearly enough, I suppose.

I also spent more than a few hours sitting in our hotel room, admiring our view, thinking, and writing in my journal. I was reading this book on my trip, and because it discussed how little time we now give ourselves for quiet contemplation because we are so often plugged into some form of social network, I felt inspired to indulge in as much of this down time as possible, even though I was in Tokyo, where there is still so much for me to see and experience. I walked, window shopped, rode the subway, ate a Bento Box lunch, and also spent time alone, with no distractions save my journal and pen.

Usually when I return home from a trip, I am kind of a crazy woman. The minute I walk through our door, the deluge hits me ~ the laundry-mail-grocery shopping-unpacking-puppy training-email thought bubble, the one that feels like it is about to burst until I get it all done. This time, there was no such pressure, and ~ imagine! ~ it all still got done. I can't help but wonder if the ease that I allowed myself on my trip to Tokyo didn't stay with me on the journey back home. I can't help but notice the connection between that morning I plugged into my headphones in the middle of Roppongi and right now, when I have the day's To Do list already fully formed in my mind, but I observe it with a sense of having enough time. There is a story to finish that is due today, there are photos to format, there are packages to ship, there is a rental car to procure, and, oh yes, there is the book. And there is enough time. Surprisingly enough, it just might be as simple as that ~ to decide there is enough time and then begin each day. There will always be enough time for what really needs to be done, and everything will be done in its own time, at its own pace.

Much of my time in Tokyo was about quiet and stillness and letting the minutes drift by me like wispy, barely-there clouds. To know Tokyo as well as I do ~ and I still know so little ~ I would have never guessed I would be able to find such a deep calm within me while there. But on every journey, there are always surprises in the most unlikely of places ~ unexpected treasures that I can't record, purchase, photograph, or in any way document, but simply notice, and remember, and continue to be mindful of beyond the borders of wherever I happen to be.

Today's entry is brought to you by the Ginza Subway Line, and the sounds I heard on one of my first rides of the week:

Ginza Line

Christine Mason Miller

Santa Barbara, CA

Writer * Artist * Storyteller * Guide