My life has an unusual amount of “what if’s” that I can’t help but think about at the moment. And here the “what if” doesn’t refer to that which I haven’t done ie. “ah IF only I had done this, I wonder what would’ve happened”, but instead refers to that which has already happened, that which happened by complete chance, asking instead “what if I had never done this/ this had never happened to me, what the hell would I be doing now?”

I suppose everyone can ask themselves these questions at any time, but there’s a few recent coincidences, or perhaps pieces of luck even, that have really got to me. Without these little things happening I would be completely f’d right now, and I feel like I’ve been unusually lucky of late.

So… My luck:

Airplane cancellation

The piece of happenstance:

I brought a ticket to Japan in July for 400 pounds to leave on January 2nd. It was a two part flight and the first part got cancelled, so I just asked for a refund. This in turn allowed me to book a later return flight for £650 which left on January 9th.

How it has saved me:

This is a big one. Firstly there was a huge financial boost: not only did I manage to sort out my return flight for only an additional £250 (who knows what it would’ve cost if I’d brought the return as an individual flight), but the extra week allowed me to do a week of work, and I’d say over all this event has therefore put me a £1000 better in pocket, which becomes all the more when you consider I only had £1500 savings. All because the first part of a flight was cancelled.

However more importantly (as money is such a trivial thing darling): it gave me time to sell all my mac stuff, and buy instead this macbook pro that I write to you from now. On this macbook I can edit videos. When you go to a country (ie. Japan) on your own, you inevitably feel completely purposeless often. When I feel purposeless I think about making videos, doing my blog. I enjoy being creative. Here gives me a chance to do this much better than London. I think without the video project, I’d feel maybe even quite unhappy here. So in that sense, a small flight delay is what has allowed me to be happy here. That’s why I say this point is much more important than the money. And this flight delay so easily couldn’t have happened; usually you book a flight, then it leaves that day. Having this computer changes everything here, but it’s such a massive piece of luck that I’m here with it, it’s scary to think about how easily it could be different. Coming here £1000 down and with no vent for creativity, coming to Japan so suddenly after re-returning to London… I think I would’ve been miserable.


The prior situation:

I’m not the best with dollar. I’ve dropped about 1000 euros in my first week here. Yeh, you heard me. Some of this has been stuff like 2 weeks rent, buying a bicycle, getting a gym subscription, but there’s still a sackload of money that is unaccountable for and just has to be attributed to first week madness (ie hookers and cocaine).

I now only have enough money for the rest of my rent for my time here, and hence no money to eat with or do anything.

The happenstance:

A girl from Italy has terrible maths problems and needs 1.5/2 hours tutoring everyday on Skype for 2 weeks. My colleague from Italy asked if I could do it.

How it has saved me:

That’s about 1000 euros worth of work. Now that I’m settled here and get how it goes a bit – and have my rent paid – I can live a nice life with a budget of about 20 to 30 euros a day, that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner out at restaurants/cafes, a coffee and snack somewhere, and maybe a beer or two in the evening. 1000 euros divided by 25 euros is 40, so that’s 40 days budget accounted for which takes me to the 3rd March. (I realise an English man rationalising in euros while living in Japan doesn’t really make any sense, but hey, that’s really just how it is).

Now I rarely, rarely get students who need work everyday, and especially ones who are willing to do it through Skype. In fact this is the first time, and I hope you can see to what extent it’s completely saved my bacon and appreciate the fortune of it. If this and the flight situation hadn’t happened, I’d be completely penniless, and probably be considering coming home right now.


The prior situation:

I have no friends.

The happenstance:

In the next video you are going to be introduced to my friend Yoshi. I was just walking round the bicycle section of a huge store in central Yokohama on my 2nd day here, when two Japanese people just sort of half stopped as they were walking past me. I’m a friendly guy, so having caught their eyes and having then for some reason all having held that gaze, I opened my mouth and said ‘konnichiha… o-genki desu ka?’ (hi, how are you?), to which they replied and we laughed, and it turned out Yoshi had lived in Canada and the US so spoke some English. He and his girlfriend decided to walk around Yokohama with me and help me with chores, and eventually we went out for dinner together on a high floor of some plaza overlooking the port and ‘minnatomirai’, one of Japan’s most famous tourist attractions.

A bit of Minnatomirai.

It turns out that Yoshi had actually stopped because he saw me filming myself on the subway on the first day I was here. So he was actually in that same carriage as me on the same train on the first day I was there, and also in the same part of the same huge store in the same huge shopping district in the second largest city in Japan at the same time as well. What a strange coincidence.

How it has saved me:

Yoshi is now my Japanese friend here, we meet often and go out to dinner most nights, and hang out on the weekends. He’s not shy of the camera, and is providing with me with a lot of good footage and stuff that I wouldn’t be able to get otherwise as well.

But beyond being someone who helps my videos, more importantly he’s a friend, and I feel incredibly lucky to have found one during my very first week in Japan. A japanese one at that (it’s always easy to find other foreigner friends)(though as you can imagine, the foreigners in Japan seem to suck a lot).

Having someone to text with, to go meet up with, it gives you more purpose and again I don’t know how I would be feeling if I hadn’t been at that Bike shop on that day, and filming myself on the train the day before.

In summary

So those are just three things, but if you took away all of them, or even two out of three… my life would be a lot different here. A lot worse. They are all really important things, and they are all just massive pieces of luck, and it’s scary imagining how easily it could be different…

Or is it luck? I notice if I go back through this post that the bad situation in each case just comes from lack of planning. Plane ticket: shouldn’t have just spontaneously brought a plane ticket without thinking anything through. Money: Should’ve saved more and investigated working in Japan, investigated more leads in Italy. Friends: Should’ve done more research to find more people before I arrive, language exchange sites, contacts, friends of friends.

But I didn’t do any of that shit. And I never do, and I probably never will. When I write things like the last sentence of that last paragraph, I almost feel sad for not having done it, like now I’m suddenly realising what a good idea that stuff would’ve been. But I guess I can always start now.

However I never did any of that stuff when I went to Italy, and everything worked out fine. Largely from happenstance again. Perhaps when you just walk out the house with the belief that everything will be alright, for some reason everything just turns out alright. It seems like luck, it seems like everything good or interesting that happens has this infinitely small chance of happening, and that’s right it does. But perhaps when you have a positive attitude, and just walk out and into places, you start to expose yourself to all the infinitely small chances that the world has. You provide infinite opportunities for things to happen, and therefore from all the things that have an infinitely small chance of happening, one will appear and it will seem like a huge coincidence or stroke of fortune. It’s kind of like the monkey who writes all of Shakespeare’s work.

I suppose this above paragraph doesn’t really account for the luck with the aeroplane and the work, though maybe it does… Maybe if that hadn’t happened, something else would’ve.

Maybe just like Harvey Dent and his double sided coin;

I make my own luck.

(future note: I’m actually going to release videos every two weeks, I don’t want to rush things and have some time limit that defines when I need to have something ready… I’d rather be able to collect more footage, then spend more time with final cut, so I can actually learn how to do more things with the software)

About Sam

Hi I'm Sam and I write here exclusively at Samuel's Travels. Exclusively as by and large no-one wants me writing anywhere else. Please enjoy yourself while reading.
This entry was posted in Friendship, Ramblings, Reflective Musings (essentially ramblings as well), Shit I got up to working in sex districts in Japan. Bookmark the permalink.

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