Do you ever, when doing something dull like standing in a supermarket queue or driving the same route to work as you have for the past five years, all of a sudden, get a really weird feeling of self-awareness? A feeling like – Hey! This is me!
It’s kind of like a feeling similar to when you see someone you know in a place where you didn’t expect to see them and because you didn’t expect to see them there, you see them but don’t recognize them at first. Only after a second or two, much to your surprise, you register who they are.
During these moments of self-awareness and clarity you realize that that’s you. That that’s you there in the supermarket queue or behind the wheel of that car. And for a moment, you become more strongly aware of where life has taken you. An awareness of your own life that you, for some reason, overlook most days.
And sometimes you are not happy with what that moment of reality makes you realize. For instance, I wasn’t happy 17 years ago when behind the wheel of a VW Golf on a motorway between my home and work I was thinking: This is me. This is my life. Why the hell am I here?!
And sometimes you can’t believe it is you standing in that supermarket queue. Maybe you are baffled as to how life had thrown you from your hometown somewhere different, maybe you are surprised that you had the courage to make the decisions that you thought you didn’t have the courage to make. And even though you no longer are surrounded by places and people that are familiar and safe, you are fine regardless and you feel that the risks you took, the courage you displayed and/or the hard work you showed that led you in the place where you are now were the best decisions of your life.
Today, I saw the people around me in the supermarket. I saw the sushi, tempura and takoyaki counters, the big bags of rice taking half the shop floor space and the product labels written in Japanese. I heard the Japanese advertisements from the shop’s tannoy system and the cashier talking to a customer in Japanese. And for a moment I thought Is this really me? Is it really me who is navigating this confusing shop like a pro? Do I really live in Japan? And with a big grin on my face I answered to myself: Yes. This is me. This is my life. I live in Japan.