Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The introduction

(Somewhere in the annals of my memory, I recall a nebulous source - some teacher or textbook - drilling the warning that one must never begin an essay, a report, or a story with a quote. To do so is seemingly the height of unoriginality, and forever entraps the writer as a hack.

Frankly, I agree with that wholeheartedly, and I consider this blog to be as linear as any high school history book; which is why I must tell that source, with great sadness: I can't think of anything better. Sorry.)

There's a saying in Japanese, "Ishi no ue nimo sannen" (石の上にも三年), which translates literally to, "Even if you spend three years on a rock..." The wording draws my memory to a number of similar-sounding phrases that pervade the English language: "You must have spent the last three years living under a rock," or "The grass is always greener on the other side." (Think back to the fable that spawned the latter. Yes, my brain frequently makes connections that require careful explanation.)

It's safe to say that these phrases spawned by a so-called "Western" language carry with them "Western" sensibilities - keep up with the times! Enjoy what you've got! It's all in your head, so stop suffering and start moving! It stands to reason that a phrase born in the Japanese language would, then, reflect Japanese sensibilities. And, quite honestly, the meaning of "Three years on a rock" does just that: in practice, it means that no matter how unpleasant a certain situation may be, if you continue to persevere through the hardship, you will ultimately be rewarded for your patience. Or, in other words, "That's the way it is and should be, so grin and bear it."

I'm an American girl, stubbornly independent even by American standards. Seriously - no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I want to, I can't do ANYTHING by the book. Which, well, sits with me just fine. So, what happened when Bethama, the reluctant nonconformist, decided to move to Japan, work for one of the major "Eikaiwa" private English schools, study Japanese, and, just maybe, fall in love with a cute Japanese dentist?

It's very doubtful that she's going to last three years, that's what.

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