The Greek king, Sisyphus, is renowned for his hubristic belief that he knew more than Zeus who then punished him to roll a bolder up a hill. Zeus’ punishment came in the form of an enchantment that forever caused the boulder to roll down the other side of the hill. Thus, the idea of a Sisyphean task was born – fruitlessly repeating the same task over and over again with no ‘reward’ apropos, result. While not something that applies to all of my students, I don’t hesitate to say that my job is very much a Sisyphean one. Certainly, trying to do the best job I possibly can for every single student is part of what got me into my recent internal collapse. Much like trying to fill a sieve with water, and then trying to use that sieve to fill a lake, very little of what I teach is actually being learned or picked up by my students. Naturally, there are elements of their attitude towards learning and my own relative inexperience as a teacher that more than likely contribute to this however I see something else mixed into the cocktail; more than that it is something that I have seen throughout much of my times in Japan.
In the vein as the difference between a room with someone sitting silently in it is different to a room that is totally empty, Japan is not serene but soulless.
Watching my students in their classes its quite clear that beyond the vernacular ‘no fucks to give’, there is something that is simply not there. As though they missing something that is so well scarred over that its almost imperceptible that anything was there. Adults aren’t exempt from it either. Their manner is not one of tacit acceptance or tranquil reticence nor even resignation. There is simply no Will present in them. No hope. No passion. Nothing. Soulless. To the point that every Japanese person will tacitly deny that they have religion of any kind. Ironically, they believe it with more fervour than they approach most other things in their lives.
In Japan, truly. Nothing matters.
The difficulty that arises from this is twofold. Unfortunately.
I cannot help but see my students, slack in their apathy and want nothing more than to try and make their world brilliant again. Make it shine with all the colours of the rainbow shining through a diamond. Its not (usually) in me to just give up, but at the same time I know that it is at least in part because of my faith and spirituality that gives me the impetus to even try to do so. A profound part of what drives me as a Pagan and a Heathen is my NEED to see the world filled with magic the way it was so many centuries and millennia ago. My personality and Praxis resonate with that idea keep it fuelled. Gives me strength.
Some days it almost breaks me to see my kids sitting their like phantasms. Half there, with everything passing through them.
Getting fainter and fainter with every passing moment.