Counting blessings may seem absurd in these times, but sometimes it's necessary to stop and take stock of where we are in life. The journey can be so hard without the support of loved ones and friends. To quote Nikki Giovanni- " the world is not a pleasant place to be without someone to hold or be held by." I count all of my friends and family as blessings- beyond price and irreplaceable, and hope you know that I think of all of you daily. But every coin has two sides. If there are blessings, then there are curses, and while some may say there are no such things as curses, I beg to differ. The demons of indifference, arrogance, and spitefulness have been in my life of late and I have found it hard going to turn my back a la "get thee behind me, Satan." While I won't enumerate my problems, I will say that learning to lead a balanced life includes not only counting your blessings, but learning to kick spiteful demon ass when necessary. Here are the Ass Kicking lessons I have learned to use against my demons since coming to Japan.
How to Kick Demon Ass in Three E-Z Lessons
1.The Demon of Ignorance- yours and theirs
Power points +10
Some people here do not understand Americans and don't want to. You can kill these people with kindness or you can just kill them. Having no protection under Japanese law, I have decided to go with the former. But if one more person asks me about my hair, I will display my knowlege of Japanese swords in a way they will not like. Obviously, I won't really (or will I?), but the frustration of not being understood cannot be underestimated. It is a constant reminder to me to be gentle with my students and myself. Thanks to all who have heard me rant more than once, and have come back for more and to those folks in Japan who made an honest effort to communicate with me and help me make myself more at home. Your commiseration has saved my sanity more than once and means more than I can say.
2. The Demon of Arrogance-yours and theirs
Power points +15
When I came to Japan I was certain that I would be able to get along just fine- I am a reasonably intelligent adult- I pay my own bills, and have good credit. But when I got to Japan I was unprepared to deal with feeling like a drooling idiot all the time. The smallest things became gargantuan tasks. Getting a grocery store card became an excercise in futility, and teaching- the skill I had counted on using to prove my worth, had become a torment because I couldn't type on a Japanese computer or work a Japanese copy machine. I also faced a constant barrage of questions from people who insisted on comparing- meaning "dissing" America- its schools, people and culture. I thought I could get away with acting ("acting?") like myself- that everything would be cool, but it wasn't. At least until I found a balance. I learned that asking for help invited people to share in my life and they were happy to do so. I learned that teaching is an art- always changing, and I now appreciate that art and my part in it more than I have in years. I learned that I should be proud of how well I am acclimating here, even if I have the vocabulary of a five year old- it's five year old Japanese vocabulary. Arrogance has taken a back seat to humilty and has forced me, while making me feel like a child again, to grow up.
3. The Demon of Spitefulness- theirs
Power points +9
Before I begin, let me preface by saying that for the most part, all of the people in my life have been generous beyond measure. But in every life a little rain must fall and b****ches must come to call. I have met them on the job, in public, in the mall, the grocery store- wherever human misery is found. And these b***, male and female alike, have made a point of being a thorn in my side because I cannot understand why they are so miserable. Then one day I realized, it was about power. People who have no real power, still have the power to make others uncomfortable, like itching powder in your undies and they do not hesitate to use it. They are spiteful, little sprites who revel in the trouble they create and the unrest they disperse. But-they can be circumvented. With a little kindness, ( put a little love in your heart!), these demons of spitefulness can be bypassed. Now, you don't have to love them- though, God knows the poor mfers need it. But the best thing you can do is give yourself some extra love when they are around- sort of like a love shield against their hateful kryptonite. Kindness is a defensive, not offensive power- but it can often turn the tide in an emotional battle. I have learned that kindness to myself is not a luxury but a weapon kept at hand for a time when it is needful. Life is filled with spiky points- demons add extra pain, but kindness is like the true spirit of the martial arts- it can turn away every blow. Kindness can soften the hardest of hearts. And where it doesn't soften, it enfolds.
The most important lesson of all- Keep up the good fight.
Learn the art of kindness and practice it on yourself every day.
Current Status: Paladin
Vanquished Demons- 3* (for now)
Power Points 300,000 +
Weapons- faith, brass ovaries (Thatchers to you), Demon Mouth, HyperCranium
Allies- Too many to count (thanks to my peeps!)