This is part 3 of my series: Five things I’ve learned about myself living in Japan
Click here for part 1
and here for part 2
And now Part 3
Most everyday, by the time I get to work, I’m either a case study in apathy, nauseous from the obscenities I’d endured moments earlier or, on a good day, focused on a word, sentence or idea that will improve my book or make my latest post more concise.
Only, when I arrive at the gate of my school, I do so to a chorus of good mornings and ohayo gozaimasus.
The baseball team, out on the field practicing, stop practicing to say in semi-unison, “Ohayou Gozaimasu.” One might add something funny like, “did you buy condoms?”
Some of the girls, out practicing tennis to a hail of cadences, do the same. One might shriek “I love you, Loco sensei!”
This even before I even cross the threshold.
Once inside, the sound of the band practicing scales and various other tunes wafts through the halls. Students headed for home room notice me in the foyer taking off my street shoes and slipping on my school shoes, greet me with varying levels of enthusiasm.
It’s hard not to think of Mr. Rogers at these times. I even hum the tune unconsciously sometimes (-;
Sometime I take all the pleasantry for granted and grunt a greeting like a grumpy boss’ arrival at the office, but mostly I can’t but recognize that this warm, giggly, musical welcome is the trigger that allows me to let go of all that baggage I ‘d arrived with. The people within these gates and fences, walls and hedges, are not deserving of the animosity I bear. I’m aware of this the way you’re aware when you’re dreaming that the chirping sound that suddenly pierces your subconscious is not derived from your subconscious but from your Smartphone’s alarm.
The song of children, even teens, especially here, is sung in the key of innocence with chords of hope.
Anger, animosity, hate, bitterness, stand little chance of maintaining their hold under these conditions.
From 8:30 til sometimes as late as 5pm, on a daily basis, I’m a free man!
My school is my sanctuary. And my kids are the custodians.
Not to suggest that the kids aren’t a pain in my ass, sometimes. They’re teens. By divine decree they are. Nor do I want to give the impression that my co-workers don’t challenge my patience (as I do theirs) . Indeed they do.
All I’m saying is that whatever issues I have with life in Japan and Japanese people applies almost solely to strangers…and there are no strangers in my school.
I am not a big scary foreigner I’m not a criminal or something to be shunned, snubbed, escaped from or run off. I’m not to be dehumanized in any way.
I’m a person, as much as a foreigner can be a person here, replete with thoughts and feelings. These are attributes I took for granted until I came to live in Japan. I will never take them for granted again.
The kids and I inspire and learn from one another. It’s almost a symbiosis, as magical as a Stevie Wonder song.
Case and point, the other day I walked in to work to find these, and many more, adorning the walls:
So, what have my kids taught me about myself?
A-That I’m a real teacher and that teaching is truly a blessing!
B-That my soul is healed by being with children
To be continued…
Who is this guy, Loco, anyway? Click here!
PS: Wanna chance to win a Kindle Wifi from Loco? I bet you do! Peep the rules here: How To Leave This World Better Than You Inherited It