Friday, October 01, 2010


I apologized for sleeping through a meeting yesterday, adding a bow or two for good measure and settled in my chair for the busiest day of my trip. I asked questions, spoke slowly and listened carefully so I could properly record the shared insights.

"I'm going for a walk," I decided as it neared 1:30PM. I had 90 minutes free and had not yet explored this spot in the countryside to any great degree. So I set off, camera in hand, into the sunny afternoon.

I held my breath as I hurried through the crowd of smokers, stopping short when someone called my name and pausing to talk to one of the local team. He began asking detailed questions about a presentation I'd given two weeks before, having listened to the teleconference, and noted how important that project had been to some of his key customers. I listened some more, answered questions, discussed next steps, and realized that what I do and decisions I make cascade around the world in a small but very real way. I thought about it after waving goodbye and moving away from the meeting location and decided it was awesome in both the good and scary sense.

Growing a little disappointed in my foray into the countryside as I had taken but a single mediocre photo, I was ready to retrace my steps about 30 minutes later. Deciding to make some sort of loop, I remembered seeing ridged roofs when I glanced out of our meeting room and selected a quiet alleyway for my return trip. A block or so later, I could see my targeted structures and adjusted my path for a more direct approach, immediately charmed by the clothing hanging to dry on balconies and gardens ripe with vegetables.

Grinning at a pea pod, I continued to take photos in the sunny afternoon, undisturbed in this quiet little spot. I assessed my location and adjusted my direction (I could see my hotel in the distance - I didn't suddenly develop a sense of how not to get lost) and hurried toward spots of color along the sidewalk. Crouching, I cursed myself for shooting into the sunlight and hoped I could correct the pretty floral photos retrospectively. I admired the blooms as they swayed in the gentle breeze and then hurried toward "home" so I could wash my face before my next meeting began.

At said meeting, I expected to sit in a room with 5 men and listen. Instead, there were nearly 50 attendees and I ended up speaking. The walk had cleared my mind, allowing me to work through the difference between expectation and reality and offer a coherent if impromptu explanation of some current issues. Bowing and smiling upon concluding said gathering, I hurried across town for the final meeting of the evening, patting my stomach with absent sympathy when it growled and pausing with surprise when I faced another packed room when I expected a smaller group. I tried to remember names my brain can't seem to get - I think I picture the letters of the name when I meet someone and it triggers something memory-relevant. When I can't match the sounds of someone's name to letters I can visualize, I struggle. In that sense, business cards are extremely helpful.

"A lot of people today," I commented to Adam and Sibling over dinner as we nibbled on pizza and salad. (I know - we tried Japanese and there was no English menu - I couldn't deal with that level of surprise at 9PM when I was hungry.)

"A lot of people in Japan," Adam replied and I nodded while reaching for a tiny napkin tucked in a glass on the table. And he's right - there are - but I've been sheltered from the crowds as we're situated here in the countryside.

"Tokyo tomorrow," I noted before taking another bite, thinking that the meaning of 'a lot of people' was about to get drastically adjusted. Sibling nodded eagerly and Adam winked at me as I grinned back at them.

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