“If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.”

Kazuo Ishiguro, the remains of the day

As I touched upon in an earlier post, daily routines have become a key part of my life here over the past five weeks. I have always liked to have a certain amount of structure in my life, even if that structure is as vague as a general plan for how I may think or want things to proceed.  On the Tuesday of last week, I finished my final round of self-introductions, and on Thursday my speech buddy competed in her speech competition, as she delivered a fully memorized, five minute, English speech about the benefits of Japanese volunteerism. With each of these milestones passed, it truly felt like i was settled into the rhythm of my daily life.

Last week was also my first week of consecutive workouts at my new gym and the third week of Salsa lessons, and the latter ended with me having a lengthy conversation with my Salsa teacher where I was able to learn more about her life here in Japan in exchange for some simple English tips and tricks. And each new day at work brought new lessons and interactions with my coworkers and students as I continue to learn to make the lessons as engaging as possible for the students. Through these interactions, I have found what I believe to be my favorite kind of student:

The Loudmouth.

I was a motormouth during high school, and I still am in many ways, so it is fairly entertaining to observe the same antics I practiced from the perspective of the instructor. There is at least one in every class, and they really bring a lot of energy to their respective classes. There is a certain kind of energy that comes from the cocktails of hormones that flow through adolescents, and I can remember that feeling all too well. I feel that this memory is why I relish my interactions with the more energetic students so much. Perhaps I sound like an geriatric curmudgeon, but seeing these kids reminds me of how I was at that age and it gives me so much perspective on how much I have evolved in the seven years since I was in their position.

At that age, I was overly energetic, overly self-conscious, and only just starting to realize the abilities I possessed as I started to grow paltry facial hair on my upper lip and feel my voice deepen below the frequency of a dog whistle. In the years that followed, I realized my talents for the study of literature, history, language, and culture, and I pinned down what my values are and how they fit into my own paradigm of life. All these experiences and more made my time in high school and college invaluable to me and my own development, and when I see these young kids who are just like me, it is both humbling and inspiring. Just as they are starting to grow into their own selves, I too am growing into myself, albeit seven years ahead of them.

All of these changes came from the respite of routine, since insanity is nothing more than the repetition of the same actions ad infinitum. With these kids start to break their own routines and find their niches, so too must I. I still plan to maintain my gym regimen, my salsa lessons, practicing/studying Japanese, and all of the other part that make up my everyday life; however, I will not only do these things. I grew into the man I am today by trying new things and seeing how they meshed with how I view myself and the world around me, and to keep growing and keep improving, I need to continue this habit.

I come from a family of English major, world travelers, and while I continue that familial legacy, I need to make this branch of the multi-generation journey my own, and a primary reminder to me is seeing these energetic, loudmouthed, excited kids. They are so like I was, and they will grow up and into their own people. Their yet untapped growth makes me realize my own ahead of me, and this makes me excited to see what the future has in store. I need to surpass the journeys of my father, uncle, and grandfather, but while I’m busy surpassing the previous generation, I have to take care that the next one does not do likewise.

Or, at least, not yet anyways.



Song of the Week

Memoirs of a Gaijin Playlist

“I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf

This song is one that I knew the hook to for many years, but it was not until two weeks ago that I actually listened to the full song for the first time. And when I finally did listen to it, I found it as great as I was hoping it would be. I love how it has the piano creating the backbone of the moldy, and I love how the guitar and drums accentuate the entrances and exits of the chorus. And Meat Loaf’s vocals are at both declarative and quietly personal, the latter of which I a personal favorite in most songs. I really love this song, and listening to this song is definitely one of the things that I know I would do for love.

If you would like to listen to this song or any of the other prior Songs of the Week, check out the Spotify Playlist linked above!

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