MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
Christmas music plays over the Exchange’s intercom as little children run around the store giggling and laughing with their parents. Seeing the kids, a sudden rush of loneliness sweeps across me as I realize it’s been three years since I was home for the holidays.
Squashing the thought just as quickly as it came, I think to myself, “Why am I letting myself feel lonely with all this happiness around?”
In that moment, I refused to let this stop me from enjoying the festive season. My forthcoming days would be different.
I wake up feeling soothed and well-rested. Looking out my bedroom window, I see the sun greeting me with its rays of light, casting beautiful colors on the clouds in the early morning sky.
“Time to start my day,” I say to myself as I pray to God, asking for His wisdom and guidance during my week off from work.
It’s not every day I wake up in another country, so I “gear up,” grabbing my Japanese dictionary, a notepad and camera, and set out for exploration.
There is something about walking around in unfamiliar places that just thrills me and fills me up with joy. The streets are filled with little cars zooming by, cute chimes emanating from the street lamps and families perusing the city parks. Sometimes I have the most interesting things happen to me while I meander around the city.
One time, I searched for opportunities to practice some photography and I came across three teenage boys skateboarding by the park just outside the gates. I watched them practice nose grinding across a bench, until I envisioned the desired photo. With my dictionary in hand, I managed to somehow communicate to them what I wanted.
Again and again we tried to get the shot, and I heard them say, “Sugoi! Sugoi!” meaning “Cool! Cool!” as I showed them the failed photos. We kept at it until we finally caught the shot. I showed them the photo and they commented on how awesome it was. We all cheered and went around giving each other high-fives. I thanked them and left with a realization that along with the photos, I helped others smile that day. Sharing in their happiness thwarted my negative attitude of being away from home with cheer.
After walking for several hours, I avert my attention toward the sky as the sun begins setting into midday. It’s time for my journey around Japan to end for the day and I head back to my dorm room to enjoy some drawing time.
“What will I draw today?” I ask myself.
I love drawing because concepts and stories are limitless. There are so many varieties of characters I can create and the story can always have a happy ending. Seeing colors and schemes that complement each other is a beautiful symphony for my eyes, allowing each color to be a defining note in the story. I finally strike an idea as my mechanical pencil hits the paper.
The scratching sound of art bursting from my pencil is melodious to my ears, my heart is overcome with feelings of delight as every purposeful stroke and curve lines the page drawing closer to the final design.
I find art interesting because I’m not running around, or fending off opponents like I would in a basketball game, yet find my heart furiously beating with passion for each character I create.
The day nears an end as I close it where I began—some prayer, a good word from the Bible and a sermon from my pastor back home.
My spirituality and faith in Jesus are the cornerstone for my life. I could be completely overwhelmed in the moment, but as soon as I go to God in prayer or listen to worship music, everything ceases to affect me and the outside circumstances, attempting to define my mental state, melt away.
I know God will always take care of me and provides everything I need, this includes the cure to loneliness. I just have to know God is in control.
After a few hours, I retire to my bed and think about my day, which started feeling bitter and lonely but ends with so much content. I feel more optimistic now because I don’t have to be sad during the holidays and I am determined to keep it that way.
What’s the moral of my story? Don’t be sad this holiday season. Find something that keeps your head high and use it to completely immerse yourself in happiness. No matter what your situation is, only you can determine how it affects you.