it`s come round again. The point in time when I become my most introspective and ponder on the meanings and possibilities of the last year and how they affect the New Year.
I have to confess that I have a great deal of difficulty observing the suffering of others, often becoming depressed as a result so it was probably not such a smart move to sit through the TV drama `One litre of tears,` during the coldest part of my year. The drama is a fairly accurate reconstruction of the life of Aya Ikeuchi who was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration at the age of fifteen. This is a nightmare disease similar to Gerhigs Disease in which the body systematically loses it`s motor functions as one gradually loses the ability to walk, situate objects one can see in relation to the body, talk and so on until the victim often chokes to death. Watching the series and reading the book made me feel like I was carrying a heavy burden around for some time before I realized what others had much more quickly than me probably time and time again. Ultimately the message is about redemption and hope, which are not bad things to reflect on before a new year begins for the human race.
At the beginning Aya constantly returns to the same agonized question, `Why did this disease choose me?` and through her early years of suffering there seemed little in the way of an answer. In her writing she constantly comes back to the point that she can do nothing for herself. It is through her rage and frustration with this she finally experiences what I call an `aha moment,` and found her personal reason why she was put on this planet in such dreadful circumstances. As part of the treatment she was required to write a diary from the first inception of the disease and she religiously did this for ten years. In her final and most lonely years she finds that her initially somewhat casually published writing had become a beacon of light and hope for thousands of people suffering from the same disease. So much so, that on the anniversary of death hundreds of people still turn up at her grave and place flowers on it.
The other thing from the drama that left an indelible impression on me, and that writing does suggest it did actually occur more or less as portrayed, is a very disturbing discussion that occurs in Aya`s homeroom which she overheard by accident. In the early stages of the disease the parents of the students at Aya`s elite school were up in arms about having a `handicapped` person in the class. The effect had been to cause lessons to be slightly delayed on occasion as Aya was being carried between classes. Also in the high pressure `take no prisoners` study environment, Aya`s inability to take notes from the blackboard rapidly had slowed down the pace of the classes. It was claimed that students grades were dropping as a result. The students were complaining to the homeroom teacher about this although the bitching was driven at a deeper level by jealousy of the fact that the most eligible male student had clearly chosen Aya as his life love. Unable to stand the pseudo sympathetic `we love her but don`t want her` hypocrisy any longer this taciturn youth stands up and in remarkably offensive Japanese tears them all apart. The interesting thing is he chooses to highlight their lack of integrity in word and deed. IE Don`t pretend to be or feel something that your not. Had Aya been dealt with honestly from the beginning the problems could have been resolved. The boy even calls the homeroom teacher `omae` rather than `sensei` in his blunt statement of truth about his and the students hypocrisy. The whole scene intrigued me because under normal classroom conditions one could neither deliver such a castigating critique of ones peers or seriously insult a Japanese teacher in such a way. The reason he could to it to such effect was because he was telling the absolute truth and that transcended both the cultural and self centered norms that had dominated the behaviour of the school and the students.
So, I`m going into the New Year thinking two things from this. First of all we should constantly strive to find the reason why we were actually put on the earth. We do all have one, but more often than not we are content to let things ride and not actively seek this `aha moment.` Without it life is only half lived. Secondly, I am determined to deal with myself and other with the greatest integrity and honesty I can manage even if that means paying a high price.
Where will this take me I have no idea but it seems I too have learnt something from Aya.
Happy New Year.
More entries: October 2010
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