Somehow the hours in shodo class passed even more quickly this morning. There is something very meditative about it. It is so easy to fixate on the lines on the page, to try to mimic their curve and direction. But somehow they come more easily when I invoke the breath of my teacher as I remember her making the examples. I wonder how my learning would be different if we had the tool of language. How much more would I know? Is it the way?
Because I've had concerts the past two Sundays, this Monday became a Kaneko-san day. Before meeting him, I worked on my homework and ate my lunch of left-over okonomiyaki while listening to Christmas songs in the sitting area near the grocery store. Apparently it is a universal radio channel. I wonder if most Japanese people know the words. How would that change the way they feel about these songs and Christmas in general?
It was good to see Kaneko-san today. "Do you know what 'asatte,' means?" he asked. Yes, I said. It's a very common word, one that we've probably used many times, meaning the day after tomorrow. It was probably in the first 50, if not 100 words I learned. He then drew a diagram of the words "ototoi,"(two days ago), "kinou," (yesterday), "kyo," (today), "ashita," (tomorrow), and "asatte," (the day after tomorrow), so that I would really understand. I agree that it's pretty cool that the Japanese language has words for these things and it seems like it says something about the nature of the way time is felt. We don't have that in English. However, I was confused as to why he felt he needed to say it.
But then I realized that teachers are people, and sometimes we teach what we want to teach rather than what needs to be learned. It was a lesson for me to feel the pinch of frustration in this moment, to release it, and to be able to move on, to listen to him explain something that is seemingly redundant and unnecessary, but to see what more could be learned from his explanation. As a teacher I was happy to notice it, that in the future I can try to understand what it is that my students need and whether I am guiding them towards it. I appreciate Kaneko-san's thoroughness in all these matters. It is a far better thing than to be left with doubt in my abilities to keep trying. He always praises my essays, even though I can't imagine how confusing they must be to him. When I think of the past things I've written, my experiments with grammar, I am very very thankful for his unending kindness and patience.
And now it is only a week away until I get on a plane to California. These were my last shodo class and my last Kaneko-san of 2013. One of the many reasons to look forward to 2014.