Is it just a coincidence that I am flying with Japan Airlines (JAL), to revisit New York again after being cooped up for the past few years? Especially considering that my very first exploration beyond my home country was with All Nippon Airways (ANA), also to New York? I’ve never hidden my fondness for these Japanese airlines, JAL and ANA, as they have consistently taught me lessons in hospitality.
As I stood at the boarding gate, I was welcomed by a warmly smiling crew member who handed me a printed brochure. The cover proudly displayed the title “Commemorative Boarding Certificate”. “Interesting,” I thought, then I flipped through its pages and soon realized that my upcoming flight was not just any ordinary journey. It was a special challenge flight that offered an immersive experience as “Travel to a Sustainable Future”. JAL not only emphasizes the importance of achieving sustainable flights and outlining the steps they were taking on board, but they also address the significant challenges that they faced in their quest to reach the goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions. This Certificate was a ticket for me to join in a collective effort and to inspire optimism about their future sustainability endeavors.
This experience made me realize that, in the realm of aviation and environmental consciousness, JAL is venturing into the uncharted horizons. Once again, I am inspired by their efforts to excel in excellence and to navigate these new frontiers.
Looking to the future, we set challenges not only for ourselves but for the world as we, together, strive toward a sustainable future.
One of the new skills that I learnt recently is surfing (and oh, I owe a big thank you to my surfing companion, Glen. Believe me, surfing is no solo game). The satisfaction of catching a wave, standing on the board, and swooshing to the shore is unparalleled. However, stepping out of my comfort zone, which included lounging on the beach and dashing toward the waves, isn’t as easy as it appears to be.
The first challenge was to conquer the fear of the unknown depths of the sea and the uncertainty of whether the approaching wave would flip over my surfing board. I was so tensed up – so much so that my coach joked that I was as stiff as the surfing board itself.
“Go with the flow, not against it,” my coach advised. He guided me by having me lie on my board, focus on what was ahead, and stand up when the right wave came. He then gently pushed the board forward. That was when I got my first taste of riding the waves.
What came next was to learn to maneuver the board. I felt less fearful by then, and I started to enjoy the challenge and the liberating sensation that came along with it. There were no modern technologies that distract me; my sole focus was on identifying the right wave to ride and practicing the techniques my coach taught me. I lost my balance so many times, sending the board beneath the sea, and ended up taking a plunge into the water. But whenever I resurfaced, I’d yelled to my coach about what I had just learnt from my mistake, with excitement.
The more I fell, the stronger desire grew to an even greater challenge.
“From now on, our global exploration just got a whole lot broader.” I said to Glen.
“We don’t need to restrict ourselves to only cities; we are now able to venture into the uncharted horizons while chasing those waves.”
Challenges bring forth possibilities. During our recent trip to Tokyo, we had the pleasure of meeting a talented young friend named Ryu. “My friend Ryu is DJing tonight, and I’d love to introduce you to him,” said Seiji, our COO in Japan. Ryu’s passion for music was palpable and his performance was beyond one can describe in words.
“How long have you been a DJ?” I asked.
“Not too long,” Ryu replied. “I thought it was very cool so I started to learn how to DJ. I actually work at a financial company; DJing is just my hobby. Sometimes my performance lasts till 4am, and I go back home to take a nap and go to work at 7:30am.”
“What?That can’t be true.” I was so fascinated but yet still had so many questions.
Our shared love for music and city explorations brought us closer. Ryu showed us many hidden gems that we had never heard of. At a newly opened restaurant called Yose, a unique combination of a wine bar and soba restaurant that later appeared in a Tokyo fashion magazine. We had the opportunity to meet the designer of Graphpaper, a sought-after Tokyo fashion brand.
“Katayuki Minami San is the designer behind this restaurant. He had a lot of incredible ideas.” Ryu introduced me.
“But how do you know so many cool places? I thought I knew Tokyo well. But you just showed me a different Tokyo.” I was not able to contain my excitement.
“The music world is a close-knit community. I get invited to many places to DJ and my DJ friends share with me any cool places that they come across. We keep exploring the wonders both in music and within the city.” Ryu explained with a genuine smile. “Tokyo is a mega city full of challenges. I used to be a competitive swimmer in high school. I even competed in the National Games. But being a professional athlete doesn’t pay well. I had to find something to support myself. After I worked at the financial company, I continued to challenge myself to find the balance between my passion and work. I am not playing music for the money. It’s just my own way to communicate with the world. And so are many of my DJ friends.”
Ryu told me that he is invited to Jakarta to DJ next week. “I am so excited. I can bring my music to new territories and explore cool places out there.” Said Ryu, “I will share with you afterwards.”
Challenges are a journey to the uncharted horizons. It’s simply because we believe in a better world and a better self, making each journey a meaningful pursuit.
In this back to school season, instead of reminiscing about the golden days, we are setting new challenges and looking toward the future. Teaming up with the amazing illustrator Xufeng, we have envisioned a Surfing Club. We encourage you to take on new challenges, face the unknown, and ride the waves toward the uncharted horizons. Whether it is acquiring a new skill or making a significant career choice, start with something small, and the sky is your limit. We also invite our good friends to share their stories on taking challenges. And we hope you too can share your passions and the challenges you are taking on.