The pursuit of happiness.

In some places this is a human right. It is interesting to think about whether or not it is the “happiness” part or the “pursuit” part that is supposed to be emphasized. I live in Japan for most of the year and much of what I see from North America these days is filtered through the noise of the Internet, lazy reporters, and editorials that bemoan that the next generation of millenials are good-for-nothing. Or was that the baby boomers? Gen X? Gen Y?  Who is to blame? Maybe the filters are off?

Who can keep track of these things? Who can keep track of all the little boxes we are supposed to be stuck in?

6iryxr9bTBut what seems to be an idea that transcends the generations is a feeling of “entitlement”. Grandparents wag their fingers at the new generation for being anti-social and for being locked-into technology, not wanting to “get involved”. Unfortunately, they may have forgotten that their generation was the one that maxed out the government’s credit cards, started a few too many wars, and did not stop the real estate apocalypse in 2008. They are also the generation liberated from Nazi tyranny and madness. Ungrateful. Forgetful. Generation Xers never got over the fact that they were destined to get stepped over by the generation following and just got trampled. We are now in our 40’s, still listening to all that great ’80’s music (now called “oldies” on the radio), and fading away like Prufrock. The next wave of adults leaving universities do so with burdens of unprecedented debt, carrying criminally exorbitant loans to which they are shackled in a way their parents never were. Grandma and Grandpa’s chickens really came home to roost on that one.

This blog is slowly taking shape from a place where I am very interested to welcome people to come to Kagawa-ken and to really enjoy all that it has to offer, as well as a place to talk about the things that are on my mind, about English language education, and also to introduce new friends and neighbors to the 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage which is a very important and simply marvelous thing for anyone to experience.

Watching the news each day brings more and more despondent reports of the ridiculous leadership selection that faces our friends in America and in the U.K. It is simply astonishing to me that in places where there is such depths of history, education, and freedom that these, THESE people are the ones you have to choose from. I see the news and listen to their canned speeches. Throughout it all the feeling of entitlement comes through. People craving power because they simply want it. Voices shouting back and forth about whose lives “matter”. Depressing through and through…

The 88 Buddhist Pilgrimage here in Shikoku is a curious thing. People on the trail, hiking, sweating, walking the long roads usually do not expect much. They just walk. They walk and think. Walk and sing or hum to themselves. They just strip away all the gunk of media and news and bad hairdos and pant suits and just “escape”. But this is not an escape, I think. It is a way to give the mind a body a little suffering, a little sweat, and a healthy dose of unhappiness.

Unhappiness makes you think. Unhappiness makes you grow. Anyone who has every really worked out in the gym, on a karate dojo floor, hiked a mountain, run a marathon, built a business, or went to graduate school is a disciple of Unhappiness.

Unhappiness is the thing that will make you good, and content, and more whole than you were before.

imagesSome people run away to Japan to escape, but from my experience (and it is still rather limited), I can think of no better place to shake off some of the garbage and noise of your “real life”, walk for a few weeks, and let your mind have the space and time it needs to figure out what you want to do, and who you are, and who are the people around you too, and what might be something that you could do that could be good for you and others.

I wish us enough unhappiness to cure us of delusion and fake expectation. Unhappiness, in the right form, is penicillin to entitlement.

Why not come out our way for a few weeks, get some blisters, get some unhappiness, and walk the pilgrimage?