Yo Yo Wiggy!
Joseph’s got great big tonsils today. Hurrah for whatever I’ve caught! It’s turned absolutely freezing cold here now. The Kotatsu (heated table) has been in use quite a bit, as has the aircon-heater thing.
Mmmm, so feeling pretty knacked, tiredness seeping through my bones. Nonetheless, the show must go on, and I have a Christmas party to attend in Kobe tomorrow, so tonight will see me boarding a night bus for the 9-hour trek west. I was going to come back by bus too, but now realise I have so much homework to do that I really need to get back to Tokyo ASAP. Considered taking the Shinkansen (bullet train), but at £90 it’s a bit out of my range… to fly, however, is only £50, and only takes 75 minutes. And tickets can be bought at the convenience store down the road…
I shall have to plant some trees when I get back.
Life’s really very exciting at the moment. To the extent that I’m being kept awake at night by the thought of all that is possible – if I only take a step towards it. And I will. Not in the “I will at some point” sense, but the I Will in the “I’m actually doing something to make that first step possible” type sense. There’s quite a difference between the two, as we all know. It’s very exciting, and scary.
What’s really scary, however, is realising just how much there is too learn out there! They say we only make use of 10% of our brain’s ability; I’m not sure I even use that!
I have come to realise that I have quite a bad habit, which inhibits my learning. To demonstrate this habit, please accompany me into room X108 at university. Its the fist day of term, and the room is full of Japanese students, members of a certain international society who wish to get to know me and my classmates.
A: Hello! My name’s Eriko! Pleased to meet you!
B: Hello! I’m Joseph, from England, pleased to meet you too!
C: And I’m Noriko, I come from Kansai, nice to meet you Joseph!
B: Ah, nice to meet you! Whereabouts in Kansai are you from?
Note that in that conversation I avoid using the names of the two girls who have just introduced themselves to me. Why is this? I’m afraid I may have mis-heard their names, and may make a fool of myself if I get them wrong. I tell myself, “I’m no good at names anyway, I’ll just get by without”.
Of course, by resigning myself to the “Fact” that “I am no good at names” I’m making the situation far worse, by encouraging this habit I have of not bothering to remember them. I’m committing myself to a lifetime of nameless friends, which can have a big impact upon one’s life (e.g. birthday cards tend to present a bit of a problem, lacking as they are in a vital word that follows “Dear”).
Now take this habit and apply it to life in general.
“Kanji? Oh, I can’t remember kanji. I’ve done alright without it so far.”
“Developing self-confidence? Oh, I tried that for a week and it didn’t work.”
“Japanese cooking? Well, I can make curry-rice and miso-soup, and I’ve lasted this long, I might as well leave it to the missis, she’s much better at it than me.”
“Learn how to retire by the age of 40? Ridiculous, how could I do that with my job as a Data Analyst? There’s no point in me even bothering!”
“Travel the world? I can’t do that. I’m too busy. What would I do about the cat, someone needs to feed it?”
…and so it goes on. Enough of these excuses and you’ll find that life really is passing you by. Just recently, I spoke with an old friend who I hadn’t talked to for a couple of years. I told them my news, you know, about uni, meeting *Twinkle*, coming to Japan, starting a wee little translation service, setting the foundations for the future and so on, and then asked them what they’d been up to. They told me that they were still in the same old office job that they don’t particular like (but pays well), and had bought a new car. And that was it. They then complained that nothing exciting ever happens to them, and that they wished that they could travel the world etc.
Don’t get me wrong, this person is a Very Nice Person, and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m putting them down, but the thing is, unless they start making some changes nothing will happen! They are classic subscribers to the Rat Race ideology, not appreciating that the walls are only as real as they want them to be.
As of the 17th January I have 11 weeks off uni. I know, shocking. One wonders how Japanese students manage to learn anything… They’re on holiday for half the year, and then sleep through classes during term-time! Anyhow, I’ve been thinking about how best to utilise this time. Initial thought was to travel extensively, but thinking again, I feel that is somewhat wasteful. The fact is, in 5 to 10 years they’ll be plenty of opportunity for travel, and it’s not something that I’m particularly hankering after at the moment, having done quite a bit of it over the past 11 years. I mean, once you’ve seen Torquay, you’ve seen it all.
No, instead I think I should do something a bit more constructive with my time. First off, there’s the kanji. I finally managed to locate a copy of the out-of-print Remembering the Kanji Vol. II (in San Francisco, hurray for the internet…! New edition out in the Spring), that should arrive shortly, along with a tonne of books and CDs that I’ve bought off Amazon at ridiculously low prices. They form the backbone of part 2 of my holiday program – developing self-confidence (I just had to ask Twinkle what the word for “confidence” is in English, only remembering the Japanese. I like it when that happens, although would prefer it if it occurred with words like “circumcision” rather than “confidence”…).
Part three of the haru-yasumi (spring holiday) program involves doing voluntary work for a organisation whose motives I believe in. One of these is the consular section of The British Embassy – the folks who help out gaijin in Japan, when given a ten year gaol term for daring to speak on the train. I’ve sent them my CV and a covering letter, explaining my motives. I don’t expect a reply – but if you don’t ask you’ll have even less of a chance!
If that doesn’t work out, then my other choice is a certain charity; I’d like to offer my services for a few days a week, in order to spread the word about what a wonderful job they do. This way, I can gain some experience in a Japanese work-environment, whilst being surrounded by like-minded charitable individuals who are keen to do more to alleviate the gross inequalities seen in this world.
That’s the plan anyhow, we’ll see how it pans out.
Well, I must be off now. Bag to pack, books to read, life to live!