Ariel Powell '14: This Too Shall Pass

Ariel Powell was the 2014-2016 Shansi Fellow at J.F. Oberlin University. This is her second year narrative.

Recently I finished listening to a book titled A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. In this book, Tolle explores how one’s ego can negatively affect their life and ways to take power away from the ego. One phrase that stood out to me was, “this too shall pass”. Although at first glance “this too shall pass” seems negative, especially when connected to the Shansi experience. I do not want to give off the impression that I am counting the minutes until my flight home (though sometimes I want to). What this expression does do is force me to enjoy these last few months of Shansi because they will soon be over.

Shansi has been really rough. I cannot deny that the last year and a half have been the most difficult of my life by far. Adjusting to a new culture, trying to make friends, not re-enacting Godzilla with all the little old ladies at the grocery store who almost run me over with their carts has definitely taken its toll. In the sense of surviving day to day life, “this too shall pass” has been incredibly helpful. As soon as this saying comes to mind, I am reminded that whatever is making me want to swim back to America will soon be over, so I should not let it bother me as much. This annoyance will soon be nothing more than a memory and I should not let it ruin the little bit of time I have left in Japan.

Which leads to the other meaning of this phrase. Because I have so little time left, it is important to soak up and appreciate every moment. Good or bad, I know this experience has completely changed my life’s trajectory. Possibilities have opened up to me that I never before dreamed of happening. Through this experience I have become more flexible and changed how I view the world. Before Shansi, I imagined spending my entire life in Cleveland but now the whole world is an option.

I am really glad I came across this expression. These last few months have been particularly hard but ever since changing my perspective, I have gained a renewed appreciation for this entire adventure. While I am excited to return home with all of the things I have learned, I am equally looking forward to not letting the rest of my time in Japan pass me by.

Top of Mt. Mitake, Japan May 2016

Top of Mt. Mitake, Japan May 2016