Burning Rice Fields and Other Things

I know you’ve come a long way baby, but you don’t need that heart of stone. You proved that you can do it baby, you can make it on your own. But, you can’t keep running away from love, ’cause the first one let you down. – Shalamar (The Second Time Around)

Dear Friends,

1) It was my extreme pleasure to teach M again, so soon after I wrote about him in the previous post. (M‘s the student who told me about “catching purpose”). Whenever I’m supposed to teach M, quite the opposite happens and it winds up that he teaches me a multitude of practical lessons and life lessons.

Practical lesson:

* I go into the class with the text; I open to the appropriate page; I say, “Okay, let’s get started.” Then, he does his own thing, takes the marker, marches to the whiteboard, and starts teaching me a bit of Kanji. What am I to do? (I love it).

Life lesson #1: I asked M what he’s going to do when he retires in six years, and he confided that the plan is to go back to school, preferably UC Berkeley, to brush up on Physics. He majored in Physics at Kyoto University, but claims that there are many things he’s forgotten and he wants to know if there are any new developments. (I don’t even know what the old developments were in Physics.) His passion for learning at an advanced age, like so many of the retirees I’ve met, my mother among them, is truly inspiring. It’s never too late to do anything; no time for excuses.

Life lesson #2: He told me that after the rice harvest, the fields are burned, so that the soil will be ready for the next season. The fact that the fields are destroyed to make way for new beginnings struck me. Endings aren’t bad; after a flaming, fiery end, there’s regeneration, regrowth, rebirth. If a rice field can do it, why can’t I?

* Rice paddies viewed from my train window on the way to Hakone.

2) Sadly for me, but not necessarily for her, another of my classmates is leaving Tokyo. She’s on her way to hotter, more humid temperatures in Asia, and all who had the pleasure of spending time with S will miss her. She’s laid back, cool, and completely unassuming, all the things I’d like to be. (Soon.) On Saturday, we gathered at an izakaya near her school to bid her adieu, good luck, and crossed our fingers that she doesn’t like her new country of choice too much. It was my re-entry into the world of alcohol, and what a serious education it was.


3) I received this great message just today, “Remember to enjoy your wonderful city.  Twelve million people in Tokyo, so there should be lots of great people in your future!”

4) Speaking of love, you all know how I feel about my bike Lucy. Last week Tuesday, in the typhoon that hit Tokyo, Lucy was the only bike standing outside my school. She’s fortified.

* You’d think in the middle of a typhoon, I’d have better things to do than taking pictures.

Two nights ago, I was talking to a friend about the fact that I took my bike to the bike shop to get looked at for a few different reasons, and I felt how a parent probably feels when they take their kid to the pediatrician. He started laughing, and then asked, “You do know that your bike’s an inanimate object, right?”  Well yes, of course, but…. In other news, I’m soon to inherit another bike; it’ll be my “going to the supermarket and running errands” bike, because it has a basket. (I wonder if it’ll feel that I favor Lucy– like a stepsister kind of envy?)

5) We’re going to stop with five, because it’s the number for rebirth and this post is all about starting again. What could be better than a picture of steaming ramen noodles, friends who refuse to keep it clean (though I plead), and my favorite place in Ningyocho (after Brozer’s of course)?

See you soon,