“Learn the lesson the lemons bring. Don’t try to dilute the experience, but embrace it for that season”- by Stacy Hyde AKA Semantic D’Moi
This is a guest post written by my former student and now a confident adult living in Japan. She shares her take on what to do with lemons…Japanese ones.
What to do when life serves you lemons…make lemonades. Well that’s what history has told us, or rather how we have been socialised. I have to come to understand however that it is most times best, to endure the lemons as a part of the process and not the end of the journey. Learn the lesson the lemons bring. Don’t try to dilute the experience, but embrace it for that season. There are times however when one must make lemonade, because it would be wise to do so. But when should you?
I have been in Japan for 3 months now and I have received many lemons. As a matter of fact, I would say I picked up a lot of lemons just by being in a foreign country whose first language is not English but Japanese and whose culture is miles apart from my upbringing. The taste of lemon has been almost stifling and I wanted to make lots of lemonade. However for the first couple of months I realised by force at first and then by actualisation that I had to endure the lemons. To endure the lemons for me meant doing a lot of observing and interpreting. Nodding and smiling got an upgrade to bowing and smiling. The cultural norms and practices of the Japanese are quite different from Jamaicans’ in a lot of ways and were quite uncommon to me. And so to ensure there was no offence, I endured the lemons ; bowing and smiling and giving my full attention when spoken to though I understood nothing of what was said.
There is something we must remember about lemons. These small citrus fruits are great flavour enhancers in food. They are also used to preserve foods; cleansers for the body, inside and out and a number of other nutritional and health reasons. With all these benefits, we may examine how to approach the lemons of our lives. How much of the lemon can we or should we take in or absorb at one time? Do we have a choice in the matter or do we need to take the whole lemon at once? We must examine the role the lemon will play in our lives and the purpose divinely outlined for us.
Three months later in Japan, I am still getting lemons, but the shock of the sour taste is not as bad anymore. Imagine if I was diluting the lemons when I just arrived? I would not have made the progress I have made today. Now I am better able to assess situations and decide how much lemon to absorb and whether or not it needs to be diluted or sweetened, all with the objective of learning the lemon lessons.
Lesson from my Japanese students
My job sees me working at three elementary schools where I partake of lunch with the children. This was one of the lemons I decided was best to have whole and now I am better at handling the situations. As a general rule in Japanese cuisine and culture, each item of food is served in it’s own container. Rice and soups in bowls, protein and vegetables in plates and sometimes bowls. There is no mixing of rice and meat with gravy, something Jamaicans love doing. Rice is almost always had by itself in a bowl. Yet, there are those odd moments when mixing is allowed. How do I handle this? I do what the kids do. One day however, I didn’t want to do what the kids did. I wanted to mix it all together! But when I asked the kids, they said “No, no, no, no.” I was a little surprised but chuckled to myself as I envisioned eating plain rice and drinking gravy. Here’s a twist to this lemon situation. When rice is eaten by itself, it is so much easier to do so with the chop sticks! However when mixed with gravy, its very difficult to eat the rice with chopsticks…best to handle that lemon the Japanese way.
I no doubt have a lot more lessons to learn but I’m now open to the wonderful ways of the Japanese and the lemons that this culture brings.
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