The Seductiveness of “Next Time”

by Janelle Weibz of Breaking Moulds

 

Next time I’ll say the right thing.

Next time I’ll have the courage to introduce myself.

Next time I’ll visit that place.

Next time I’ll take that photograph.

Next time I’ll be the person I want to be.

Living and travelling abroad caused me to see “next time” for what it really is: a liar, a seductress, a convenient excuse for insecurity, laziness, or fear. I would say “next time” and then realize… there would be no next time. Because I would never be in that place again, with those people again, in that moment again.


My location and lifestyle in Japan made travelling frequently very possible, and I did it often, to take full advantage of the time I had there. In the beginning, it was tempting to defer things to the future, as the possibilities were overwhelming and most events took place once a year. By the end of my four years there, though, I knew there was not likely to be a “next time.”

“Want to go to this crazy festival that’s (A) the loudest festival in Japan (B) the most dangerous festival in Japan or (C) the most fallic festival in Japan?”

Yes, that sounds amazing/intriguing/hilarious!

Why carry a boring old regular shrine like at every other festival in the country when you can carry one on FIRE while drunk on sake?

“Want to go see this ceremony that only happens once every 50 years?”

Well, I’m certainly not going to be here in 50 years, so why not?

“Want to climb Mt. Fuji before it erupts?”

Yeah… let’s just hope it doesn’t erupt while we’re on it, okay? (It didn’t, but it did try to kill me in other ways).

foursome-pose-afraid-with-fuji-sm
An accurate depiction of how my friends and I barely escaped Mt. Fuji’s murderous intent with our lives.

“Want to buy these super sale $40 plane tickets and go to Taiwan next weekend?”

Of course, no need to ask me twice!

Now, when travelling and living in a place as vibrant and convenient as Japan, there really is no end of possible things to do and places to go. I learned I couldn’t simply say yes to everything, nor should I, but when I said “no” I did so knowing full well the chance might not come around again.

I also learned to plan trips and initiate going to events that were exciting to me, rather than waiting for someone else to plan or initiate, otherwise I’d end up tagging along on everyone else’s whims and feel like I was missing what I wanted to do or see the most.

As a traveller, living in the awareness that my time in any place is limited, one learns to be very intentional about how one spends their time. Because there’s never really a next time.


One of the hardest things about moving back to Canada – and there are many – has been adjusting to a stationary life. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my edge, that traveller’s way of seeing the world from a position of transience. I allow my insecurity to creep up on me and talk me out of doing things, talk me into leaving things to “next time.”

I’m at a networking event, and I hate networking events. They can be useful, though, in providing chances to speak with people you wouldn’t normally encounter. “I’m here for the food, and the speakers, not the networking,” I console myself as I stand alone in the crowd.

One of the speakers is fascinating, and I’d simply love to sit down and have a coffee with her, ask her about her life. I could go up to her afterwards. But there’s lots of people, and she seems busy, and I probably wouldn’t be able to say anything intelligent anyways, so maybe I’ll think about it and get in touch with her later and talk to her… next time. 

I left that event disappointed in myself because the traveller in me knew the truth: There would be no next time.


I’m in Kyoto, the tourist mecca of Japan. On a street corner an older couple approaches me,

“Do you speak English?”

“Yes.”

They ask for directions. “I lived here years ago,” the woman explains, “but everything looks different.”

“I bet,” I reply. These days in Kyoto girls walk around in maiko costumes… and selfie sticks.

She looks at me with piercingly haunted eyes. “Never go back to a place after 20 years.”

“Never go back to a place.” Those words stuck with me, but they’ve always bothered me in that weird way when you know you’re hearing a truth but there’s something off about it.

Perhaps a better admonition would be, “Never go back to a place and expect it to be the same next time.”

kimono-forest
Kyoto: where traditional meets modern, often in the most random of ways.

 

I don’t mean to sound depressing, all this about there being no next time, things never being the same. Another thing the wandering life has taught me, is to savour every moment of it.

It is precisely because there will be no next time that I should do it this time.

It is precisely because it will never be the same, that I should appreciate to its fullest how it is now.

This isn’t to say #YOLO, live in the moment and disregard all cares for the past or future. This is to say that, to make the most of our time, it pays to be intentional with how we use it. Walking with intention, to me, means walking in the awareness that we only have every moment once. We are all travellers in this place, and we can sit back deferring life while life passes us by, or we can give laziness, insecurity and fear the finger and go live life intentionally.


Next This time I’ll say the right thing.

Next This time I’ll have the courage to introduce myself.

Next This time I’ll visit that place.

Next This time I’ll take that photograph.

Next This time I’ll be the person I want to be.

janelle-in-taiwan
My most intentional travel moment: Reconnecting with a university friend in Taiwan. Years earlier she gave me a postcard as a parting gift and told me to meet her there one day. We are standing in the scene from the postcard.

 

janelle-mangatar-round

Janelle Weibz

Janelle Weibz is a Canadian writer, gamer, adventurer and “ex-expat.” Recently returned from four years in Japan, and originally from Vancouver, she currently calls Canada’s capital city Ottawa home base. Her online home base is Breaking Moulds, where she explores the question “If a person doesn’t ‘fit the mould,’ does the problem lie with the person, or the mould?” She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram as her alter-ego @genkiduck.

 

Written for Walking With Intention.   Leave a comment and let Janelle know what you think about what she said, and then be sure to visit her over at Breaking Moulds when you’re done.

 

Featured image via Janelle Weibz

24 Comments

  1. This is a good reminder for me. I totally relate to losing your edge when returning to the comforts of home. When I go home, I don’t want to do anything but veg. But the moments are still flying by even then. We can’t waste them. Thanks for your post. It was fun and full of light. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom gained with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you appreciated it and had fun along the way. Every moment is important, but sometimes relaxing at home is just as important as going out and doing things! I’ve definitely had nights where I decide “I’m going to do nothing but play video games tonight” and they can be so satisfying, but other times, when I have in mind a bunch of things I want to do but just end up playing video games… less satisfying. Thanks again for inviting me to participate in this! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really good considering I’m a “next time” girl. Why can’t I be a This Time girl, doing the things I really want to do when opportunity comes rather than deferring it to a day that’s most likely non-existent?

    Great food for thought, J. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, what a GREAT message! This is something I think about a lot now that my sister is gone. I will never have a chance to remind her how much I love and appreciate her (although I do still tell her that all the time). I remember years ago hearing about a study in which they asked people over 90 years old what one thing they would change about their lives if they had the chance. EVERY ONE of them said they would have taken more risks, whatever that meant for each of them. I think as humans, our tendency is to gravitate towards “safety”, whether it’s putting off that business venture, or making the trip across the ocean that we’ve always wanted. I try to remember those 90 year olds so that when I’m that age, I don’t have to give that answer to the question. Thank you for this post. It was just what I needed at this juncture in my life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your sister – losing lives definitely makes us appreciate the ones we do have. That’s an interesting study. One of my motivators has always been something similar: when I first travelled abroad on my own, so many people – older family members and coworkers in particular – said “I wish I did that when I was your age” or something along those lines. I always thought, I don’t want to be the person saying that some day, I want to be the person encouraging the younger person to do it and speaking from experience to know that it was worth it! Good luck to you and thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was on a trip to my home town and did not make the time to call one of my oldest friends there. When I got back I did call, just a week later, he had unexpectedly died the night before (heart attack). That’s the worst “next time” example for me.

    But the best is this. I’m at a huge conference, far away from home, don’t know a single person, have not exchanged any words with any humans except the front desk at my hotel. This is not unusual for me, a fairly content introvert. AND, we are in Newport Beach, CA. The atmosphere is money and appearances, neither are a priority for me so I just disappeared myself.

    But I’m 2 days into the 5 day experience when this all hits me so I vow to myself, “The next time I see a participant, no matter who it is, I will connect…somehow!”

    This is my mantra on the elevator ride down to the days proceedings. The door on the next floor opens and in walks a stunningly beautiful Earth Mother.

    It takes 2 minutes of talking, TWO MINUTES, before we realized we will be friends for life.

    And the best part? She was from my same faraway city!

    I’m not sure who is in charge of 2nd chances (next time’s?) but we were covered with a built in one, in advance. Turns out on our flight home, our seats were in the same row!

    Thanks for your beautifully articulated, inspirational story!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So well said. I try to remember the “this time” mantra, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t quite get there. And I try to remember that my hometown that I supposedly know so well has plenty of experiences that will only be here “this time”.

    Liked by 1 person

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