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Ranko-chan, Ranko-chan, doko desu ka? ...

My grandmother called out as she searched the apartment and apartment complex looking for me. What she didn’t know was that I had gone to school.

O-Bento (lunch) Box: How to Life

For my 4th birthday, my grandmother gave me an O-Bento (lunch) Box.

Little did she know that every day, I would go to our apartment balcony, watch children walking to school and yearn to go with them. But I didn’t have an O-Bento Box. The day after my birthday, without disturbing anyone, I got up, dressed myself, and with my new O-Bento Box in hand (albeit empty), I left the apartment and followed kids who appeared to be about my size to school. I stood in the back of the classroom. The class stood up and began to sing a song. I didn’t know the words, but I sang along. When the song was over, I continued to stand in the back of the room. Of course, I had been spotted immediately and someone from the school had called the police to report a strange little girl standing in the back of the classroom.

Meanwhile, back home, my grandmother was frantic. She finally called the police. Eventually the school report and my grandmother’s report intersected and a police officer, along with my grandmother, showed up at the school and escorted me away. That ended the adventure for the day.

This is just a little story about a little 4-year old girl. But every time I think about going to school and singing when I didn’t know the words, a feeling wells up inside of me that makes me cry and smile. I want so much to be that little girl again with none of the baggage I picked up as a teen and adult. When I got an O-Bento box, it was crystal clear to me that it was time to go to school. So I went! And I sang!

I think back to that moment often and use it.

I like to feel it because now, once in a while, I do feel the same way as I did then. I remember how it feels not to be clouded by baggage, or be self-conscious, or worried about whether I’m good enough.



Search your memories for YOUR O-Bento Box stories. Tell one to someone close to make sure it makes you feel good inside – not that it makes you look good, but it makes you FEEL good. Write down the story if you need to. Re-live it from time to time so it becomes a very real memory in the present.

You will run into moments, little moments, when you recognize it as an O-Bento Box moment. Remember how you felt then. Use those feelings, this one time, to step around the baggage that is getting in your way.

This little exercise brings me that bitter-sweet tear and a smile

My O-Baachan and Me: How to Life

I know my O-Baachan (grandmother) was worried but I don’t remember getting into trouble. I remember her warmly re-telling this story later, before I went away.

(My O-Baachan and Me)

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