BEEEEP BEEEEP…. Its 4:50 on a foggy Wednesday morning and its time to take on the world.
No more of Momma’s home-cooked meals. No more big man on campus feelings. No more best friend/teammate as a roommate. No more homework to accomplish. No more daily crazy college basketball schedules. It’s just me – staring blankly down the airport runway into the next chapter of my life.
24 hours later… a delirious Drew trots off the plane arriving at his final destination – just a man and his two suitcases in a strange new world. Is this what growing up is all about?
I read a story of a girl who recently graduated college and entered this new chapter in life. She wrote about wanting to become a professional writer, “We grow up in this magical world being told we can be anything we want to be when we grow up. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way: that’s not how the real world works.” However, I disagree. I was taught to DREAM BIG and if it’s in God’s will, you never know what can happen.
Denis Waitley once said, “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.” When this girl graduated college, did she think she couldn’t achieve her dream because it didn’t fall in her lap right away? Henry David Thoreau states this powerful concept in his book Walden:
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Meaning… if you advance in the direction (big or small) of how you dreamed your life, not how others dictate that it should be, then you will run into success on a scale undreamed within reasonable expectations.
Since I was a kid, it had been my dream to play college basketball at the highest level and be a sharp shooter in the NBA. I achieved the first goal and only the Lord knows if I’ll achieve my second dream. So for the time being, Japan is my new home.
For the next 8 months, I have accepted a contract to play professional basketball for the Oita Heat Devils in Beppu, Japan.
Flash-forward. My eyes are burning from lack of sleep. My urge to go running is at an all time high. (if you know me, you know I hate sitting still for any long amount of time…especially 20+ hours) The airport is crowded full of bustling people and it feels as if I have entered Gulliver Travel’s Lilliputian land of miniature people. If being Caucasian doesn’t make me stand out enough, 6’7″ is dead give away that I’m not Japanese.
As I walk up to introduce myself to the only person wearing a Heat Devil’s polo waiting at the entrance gate, I quickly realize there is a bigger than anticipated communication barrier I’m going to have to figure out. One thing I have learned over the years is that a huge SMILE is international and contagious. So that’s what I swiped on!
Before I could say ‘I was happy to be here’, local fans had their cell phones out flashing pictures and handing me small gifts of food and sweets! I received cold corn dogs, mushroom crème pastries, green Kit-Kats, sparkling orange juice to just name a few. 🙂 All the while they were murmuring “Number on fon. Nomber one fan.” repeatedly.
After living in Japan a little more than a week, one thing that’s easy to get used to is the showering of food and gifts after every practice and game. The people here are so friendly and continuously have a genuine look of “I care about you” when you speak to them. Truly something I want to implement into my own life.
“Doooonk!” followed by a drawn out sigh of frustration has become my hourly reaction every time I smack my head on my new favorite miniature door frames. Here in Lilliputian land, I mean Japan, they tend to think its funny to make all door ways 6’5″ and below to prohibit easy entrance from any above average height individual. My new apartment just happens to contain three of these limbo luxuries.
Stepping out of the small doorframes and getting some fresh clean air has become a daily habit of mine. The streets of Beppu, Japan are clean and littered with fresh flowers here and there. The ocean of Beppu Bay borders the north side of the city while picturesque mountains frame in the south, east, and west. The streets hum of only hybrid smart cars buzzing down the wrong side of the streets. The quiet nature of Japan is felt as I roam the streets and hear the whisper of people gawking at my apparently outrageous height.
My first driving experience was one for the books. I opened the door of the car and realized that other side has the steering wheel. I walked around and climb in. My knees pressed against my chest as I take off down the wrong side of the road. At every turn, I triple check myself to know if I am headed down the right lane. Everything is on opposite sides. I hang a left, hit what-is-normally the blinker and the windshield wipers go flailing. The ‘what looked like’ one-way streets morphed into two-way streets as cars would have to pull off the road as I approached them. The drivers who I let pass around me would smile big, bow their head, and then flash their hazards (apparently the Japanese way of saying ‘thank you’ in a car). Road rage and horn honking seemed to be nonexistent, or I was just too oblivious and glued to the streets to notice. With my palms sweaty and what seemed to be eternity, I finally pulled into my final destination of a Japanese hot spring. Which is another interesting blog story in itself!
As of now, I’m sitting in an immigration office waiting for my Japanese Visa typing away….
Stayed tuned for new blog posts about ‘Life Outside a Holster’ with yours truly, db4three!