香山リカのココロの万華鏡:人間を楽しもう /東京

July 05, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Living life to its fullest as a human being
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:人間を楽しもう /東京

As an ice-breaker at the beginning of a seminar, I often ask my students to introduce themselves by telling the class what they'd want to be if they could be anything. Without fail, at least a few students say they would choose to be a cat, bird or fish. Some students name other animals and even plants. But the reasons they cite for these choices are all the same: they want to be "free."

From my point of view, students have an abundance of freedom in their college years, but they themselves don't see it that way. They apparently live very hectic lives. They find that receiving instruction and at times reprimands in extracurricular activities and part-time jobs is stressful. Interpersonal relationships require that they be considerate. Many students commute from their parents' homes if possible, which means they may have long trips to and from school. Completely exhausted, it's no wonder that students wish they could simply lie in the sun like a cat, soar through the sky like a bird, or swim deep in the ocean like a fish.

But it feels to me like a waste to go through life as a human being while wishing one were a cat or a bird. That's why I remind my students that the animals they've named can't read or write, or that some animals live in constant fear of being devoured by predators. But the response I get is usually some version of, "That's fine. I wouldn't mind," or "There'd be no point in resisting."

Are they just aloof? Maybe. Regardless, I feel sorry for students who are willing to risk their lives in order to "be free" or take it easy. I had a patient some years ago, a high school student, who told me, "I think I've already experienced all the fun there is to be had in life. Everything from here on out will be boring." I was flabbergasted.

It's true. Not everything in life as a grown-up is fun. Adults usually have little free time but more responsibilities at work and at home. Adults have to deal with making mistakes at work and saying goodbye to more and more loved ones. Some days can be really tough. I, too, wonder at times what it would be like to go back to my junior high school years. But I still have moments where I feel I've achieved something significant in my career, or that I've made an important decision at a turning point in my life.

To all the young people who wish they could be a cat: Your school years -- as well as the years following school -- may be difficult, but we as human beings are able to make decisions in our lives to try and make them into what we choose. So let's enjoy it.

For this message to be convincing, however, we adults must first demonstrate that we are happy in our own lives.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年06月30日 地方版

by kiyoshimat | 2015-07-29 11:26 | 英字新聞

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