The past month and a half has been crazy. I hate the cliché, but it’s incredible how fast time has gone. So many things have happened, I thought I would reflect on them and on the coming year.
I should start with some of the more interesting events of my month. First, there was the skier on New Years Eve who got lost in the mountains. He called me at 4:30 as it’s getting dark, panicking because he kept skiing in meter-thick powder thinking he would see civilization and can’t walk back uphill in his skis. He miraculously had a cell phone that worked, the hotel’s number, reception & battery. On top of that, he was able to send a Google Map image of his location, and got rescued just an hour before a storm blew in. After being rescued, he and the rescuer still had to walk 3 hours back to the slope. If any of those factors had gone wrong, he would be dead right now, buried under several more feet of snow. He came the next day to apologize and thank me, crying and reflecting on the event that could have turned out so differently.
Then there is the staff. I sometimes feel like we are a crew of Deadliest Catch fishermen, weathering each storm as it comes. There was the belligerent American photographer who verbally abused me for not meeting his every demand. There are the daily tasks of taking and picking people up from the snow monkeys and the train station, shoveling snow, breaking up ice, waving in the cold to “send people off”. I’ve probably worked harder and pushed myself to the limits more than I ever have, but the friendships I’ve made and the experiences I gained have been worth it. We will often sit in the office, talking about pesky guests or cracking up as they try to pronounce especially difficult English words like “really”. We work hard but the community and sense of accomplishment I get from helping people create a memory of a lifetime has been worth it.
And this year feels different from last in so many ways. A friend of mine asked me recently what my intention was for the new year. I like that question, mostly because new years resolutions sound like things that are meant to be broken. What I told her was that I felt like I was laying the foundation for something much bigger. For the first time in my life, I know what I want to do and where I want to be. I want to run a travel business here, taking international guests to experience the best of Japan. And this year is going to be a lot of groundwork. I have to study for the Japanese tour guide exam. I need to get my commercial drivers’ license. I’m going to work for another travel company called Walk Japan to learn and grow so I can use those things in my own company. I don’t think I’m going to see much fruit this year, but I know that I am supposed to be here, to lay the foundation for what is to come.