Last Friday my friend Fusae came over for a bit of a reversal on our usual arrangement: instead of getting an English lesson from me, I got a calligraphy lesson from her! She very patently walked me through the time and basic strokes with the 筆 (fude) brushes and how much 墨 (sumi) ink to use. Then we practiced through some of our favorite kanji and finally she let me try using the fancy washi paper instead of the cheap stuff! I still have a long way to go before I can win prizes like Fusae, but she and I were both amazed at my progress. It’s so helpful to have someone skilled point out what to look for! There are angles and points in writing that I’ve simply never noticed on my own.
Back before I was a rabbit person, I had half a dozen pet hermit crabs. My sister, Crista, had only recently acquired her first rabbit pair, and we both happened to be exercising our pets at the same time. Poor young Bunbury couldn’t understand why I kept exclaiming at him to be careful and pushing him away from me. He finally buried his little fuzzy head under my arm in distress and a despairing apology. He simply didn’t know how to notice the tiny hermit crabs he was nearly trampling every time he hopped over to say “hi.”
Living in a foreign culture seems similar to being a bunny in a roomful of hermit crabs (or vice versa). On your own, you may not even know how to notice the matters of cultural importance you’re trampling under foot until one of them pinches you severely. How valuable it is to have friends who will gently explain the matter to you and lift your understanding to it eye to eye! Thankfully, Japan is full of patient and understanding friends who do just that for me. However, I still sometimes find myself running into hermit crabs within my own culture. 😦 perhaps there is less gracious feeling among people who expect me to already understand. To them, I bow my fuzzy little head in apology and ask for patience. It will take time to learn what to look for. Living somewhere foreign is helping. 🙂 how amazing to see our own lives through the lens of somewhere else!