Heart of a Teacher


Three English teachers have been visiting my home to practice shuji (習字). I can tell that I have the heart of a teacher, because seeing their progress brings me great joy. One student seemed frustrated by a difficult skill last time. I remembered that we needed to jump that hurdle today. Tonight she was making much stronger and more beautiful strokes. I love to see others succeed.

After studying we made salad, shinmai (新米) rice, and gyoza (餃子). We split two beers between three of us to complete the meal. I am trying to teach them how to make simple foods that are tasty. This is more of a personal mission. I love Japanese food and there is a huge variety available. Sometimes foreigners come to live here, but they find the ingredients to make food from their home country and miss out on a lot of experience and learning. If I show them a few easy items to make at home it should make their choices easier. One of the teachers is half Japanese, so she actually knows a lot of things about Japanese cooking that I don’t.

On the non-teacher side, I notice that I have a little jealousy when I watch them writing characters. I consider myself ‘not an artist’ so, even though I have reached ‘black belt’ level quickly, I see them doing certain things with more ease than I used to do those tasks. The jealousy is easily put aside, by the joy of seeing them grow.

I think I enjoy seeing students do well because it is a sign of generational progress: a sign of hope for the future. If we can always be learning better ways and passing them on, the world can become a more heavenly place. Sometimes it feels like we are failing at this, and sometimes it looks like we are succeeding; whichever is the actual case, it is important that we always have hope.


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