“He is wearing a kimono,” she said as she explained her youngest brother’s clothing choice to her sister. “Actually, it’s what everyone wears in Japan.”
My daughter, Alana, is bright, witty, funny, sensitive and sometimes wrong. I’ve lived in Japan and know for a fact not every resident of Japan wears a kimono on a daily basis.
Kimonos are typically worn on special occasions and by people whose work requires them to be in traditional Japanese garb.
I explained that to my daughter and she took my correction without any argument – she’s not quite old enough to try and argue her point of view even when she is wrong, and I hope she never picks up on her father’s stubbornness when it comes to offering opinion as fact.
What was interesting was my daughter’s perception of people who live in Japan and the clothing they wear. She just assumed everyone wears traditional kimonos because that’s the only type of clothing item I brought home from my time there.
Children are bound to have misconceptions about a number of things simply because they lack the experiences that life brings.
A lot of adults – including me – have misconceptions too, and have no excuse, other than laziness, in today’s technological age.
With all of the ways to explore it, the world is constantly shrinking and we should be exposed to the world and all the wonders it holds.
So, are our perceptions harmful?
Innocently thinking that all people in Japan wear kimonos – not such a big deal.
Thinking that all 20-something-year-old men of Middle Eastern descent are terrorists – big deal.
Believing that just because someone is of African-American descent makes them good at basketball isn’t a deal breaker, but if you’re picking teams and are basing your choices on color of skin alone you might end up with a team of Steve Erkels, and not Michael Jordans.
Perceptions hold that small-town sports teams have no chance at winning state titles, but the Bruins’ victory at the state championship game three years ago proved that perceptions can be wrong.
So, how do we change perceptions? How do we change ourselves?
We explore, we look outside ourselves, we self examine and throw out the garbage that holds us back.
My daughter now knows that not everyone in Japan wears a kimono every day.
As for me, I’m the most open-minded, fair and unbiased person I know – humble too.
I know that I have some perceptions that have changed over the last 37 years. One of which is I’m “big boned” and destined to weigh more than the average bear – or elephant, grey whale or hippopotamus.
With my total weight loss at 79 pounds, and having survived the holidays without any gain in poundage, my perspective is that I can be a healthy, happy me.
I can live to spend plenty of time with my precocious, persnickety and perpetually happy children who hope to see their father in a kimono some day as they explore brave new horizons.