Last night, while watching Naniwa Yodogawa Fireworks Festival in Juso, it really hit me what it meant to live in the present moment. I often struggle with relaxing because I am essentially always tense. Besides the challenges of nursing school, I carry the responsibly of taking care of my family, and as a result, I’m almost constantly thinking about what I should do, what I need to do, and what I will do. Even when I’m out exploring what the world has to offer, in the back of my head, I tend to remind myself to stay focused on my goals instead of getting completely consumed by temporary pleasures. As a Buddhist, I do try very hard to see every moment as a gift, but because I am always grateful for every opportunity, I tend to feel guilty if I am not constantly working. I’m aware that self-care is essential to one’s well-being, but relaxing has never been something that has come easily to me because I often find myself living in the future rather than the present.
But seeing the skies light up right before finals week, instead of mentally storing all the tasks I had to do, I found myself embracing the present moment. It hit me that I was in a completely different country, standing on a fence by the riverbed, staring at the night sky with my friends, and watching 10,000 fireworks light up right before my eyes. I’ve never seen fireworks that close, but at that moment, I found myself filling up with joy. The sounds of the people, bugs, and fireworks around me. The scent of nature, food stands, and well…a lot of sweaty people. The sight of thousands of people crowding around together to watch these fireworks shoot up into the sky over the train station. The feeling of sweat dripping down my forehead from the heat, the railing on my feet, the pain of clutching onto the fence gate for an hour – I was very in tune with my senses, aware of my surroundings, and because of that – I was truly able to enjoy living in the present moment. I caught myself thinking “I can think about those things later, but right now, look at that!” The fireworks were so beautiful, and it’s a sight I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
I met someone a few weeks ago who told me that instead of spending money on materialistic things, she’d rather spend it on memories and experiences. I understood the concept at that time, but the feeling itself I couldn’t fully grasp. Right now, I think I understand though. It’s not just having those experiences, but allowing yourself to really immerse yourself and enjoy those moments. There will always be things to do, but the world won’t explode if you relax for a couple of minutes. It’s different being aware of that, and actually feeling your shoulders relax, your serotonin levels rising, and a smile slowly forming on your face. I’m really glad that I participated in this program, that FEA gave me the opportunity to study in Japan, and that I was able to understand how the present, is a present in itself.