Progress or Regress?

It was Saturday today. I woke up at 4:00, as was the case with me, believe it or not. I had to admit that I didn’t even wash my face, brush my teeth, or drink a glass of water. I know all of them must be done the first thing in the morning, but I felt so pressed for time that I just couldn’t afford to spend one minute on any of those routines. Instead, I sat in front of the computer, which was on all night, and started to work on the rest of the essays. I had been writing 45 400-word Japanese essays for my upcoming book.

Another thing that had pressed me was the promise I made with my son. He was going to the swimming lesson for the weekend, and I would be swimming in the lane next to his. Since my son is four years old and he’s been progressing at a normal rate, his parents can only observe from far away; unless they buy and hold a membership and swim in the pool themselves. We used to swim together when he was still 1 year old, but that already seems eons ago.

You can put two and two together and correctly assume that I would have had to get the job done by 10:00, when he would leave home for the lesson. I got it done a little past ten, and tried to catch up. The lockers were mostly empty. I knew it. It was Saturday morning. Most businessmen drank a bit too much on Friday night and they could use some more sleep (unless their sleep is not interrupted by their kids). Another reason is that all those serious swimmers know that at this time of the weekend, there will be many kids taking swimming lessons in the same pool. It will be much better if they come to swim later for the day and use more space. At least they will be able to concentrate more without high-pitched, strident voices of 4-year-old monsters and their coaches.

My son was swimming so happily he didn’t even look around to see if there was a man with a big belly. But that was all right with me. So long as I witnessed him in the swimming pool, I felt like I had carried out my duty, just like the way I felt when I filed my tax return the previous week.

Later, we got together with the other members of the family and had lunch on the rooftop park of a nearby department store. We had enough sunshine to take off the coat, we met some new people with whom my kids started to play, and most importantly, we had a lot of fun.

Now I am back in my office (home). I sometimes wonder if this is what I should be doing, considering what other people are doing. Many of my fellow teachers work hard to get their books published, teach more slots, and study over the weekend. With two little kids, I can do half of them at best. I do not want to consider myself a proverbial husband who leaves everything except his work to his wife. I may almost sit on one stool, when I think of the other stool to sit on and then I may fall between them. I sometimes wonder.

You know, when you are young, people always encourage you to be ambitious toward the future, but as you grow, you need to compromise and  forget about your ambition and to regress a bit. That is how older people become more conservative. I can feel that way, too. The thing is that I am still struggling for my ambition, while keeping a good work-life balance. Probably I am not that old yet, which is good news to me. I will keep struggling, for sure, if that’s a sign of youth.


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