Toying With the Gods

I’ve been invited to contribute to a blog called Fatherfolk, where I’ll endeavor to provide the perspective of fatherhood in Japan.  This is my first contribution.  So if you’re a regular reader, go check out Fatherfolk, and if you’re reading via Fatherfolk, thanks!  And thanks to Aaron for giving me the chance to contribute.  Without further ado…

A few years ago I bought myself a Daruma doll.  Daruma is a little, wobbly red guy who is meant to make your dreams come true.

When you buy a Daruma doll its eyes are blank.  You fill in one eye, set your goal, and once it’s achieved you fill in the other eye Throw the sucker into the local New Year’s pyre for proper appeasement.  Traditionally, Daruma has some Buddhist significance, but I would just be copying from Wikipedia if I said anything more than that.

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My goal when I bought my Daruma was to get a better job.  I was teaching at an English conversation school here in Japan at the time, and had had such little success in getting a ‘proper’ university job that I was willing to try anything to improve my fortunes.  I don’t remember how long it took for me to find a new job after I bought Daruma, but when I did I dutifully filled in his right eye, chucked him into a moving box, and hit the road.

Daruma eventually got unpacked, but my superstitions about pissing off whatever gods or cosmic forces had led to my improved condition prevented me from simply pitching him into the trash can.  At the time I wasn’t aware that a fiery New Year’s disposal was the way to go, so back into the closet he went.

Until the other day when I was rummaging through some random drawer in my closet, with Ray attempting to latch on to anything in site, when I happened upon Daruma.  In my 9 months as a father I’ve quickly come to realize the entertainment value my son finds in seemingly innocuous things.  Car keys?  Heaven.  A clear plastic tube filled with Christmas tree ornaments?  Loads of fun until he starts eating the tape that’s keeping the end cap on.  Those foam strips I stuck on the jagged, accident-waiting-to-happen corners?  Rip them off for a good time.  They’re chewy!  Pots and pans?  Fun AND loud.

Daruma also caught Ray’s attention.  One of the doll’s key features is that he is bottom-weighted, so he always ends up upright.  And therein commenced a good ten minutes of Ray picking up and dropping Daruma onto the floor, watching him slowly spin around and eventually wobble back into place.  A muted chuckle now then let me know the boy was amused, and I was able to find whatever I was looking for.

So Daruma, if you can hear me, thanks for hanging around.  I’ll make sure you finally get some heat this year.

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