Monthly Musing – July 2021 – Pathways

Small daughter’s obsession with Japan and the Far East continues.  She’s been fascinated by that part of the world for a good few years now and has decided she’s going to live there when she’s old enough to leave home.  We don’t know anyone from Japan, we’ve never been there and apart from books, the internet, certain Korean boy bands on repeat play on her phone and a liking for the food at Wagamama, small daughter has no connection with that part of the world at all.

It got me to wondering how it is that we are drawn to certain times, places or activities without any prior knowledge or connection.  Listening to the radio recently, I discovered that Josh Groban, the hugely successful singer, is the only musical person in his family.  The author Cheryl Strayed knew she wanted to write from being very small but nobody else in her family was a writer.  A friend’s small son is a champion BMX cyclist and may well compete in future Olympics; my friend is no BMX champion but it was the sport that called to his son.

It doesn’t have to be a career.  Talk about history and I’m only generally interested until you mention the Romans and then my ears prick up and you’ve got my entire attention.  I’ve definitely never been to ancient Rome (unless in a previous life!) but there’s something about that part of history that comes alive to me.  My husband is the same with anything to do with World War 2 and although his Dad was in the war so you might say he has that personal connection, his Dad he never spoke about it and for someone else, that period in history might be no more than “my Dad was there.”

And the socks – where did they come from?  I never saw anyone knitting socks, I didn’t know anyone who knitted them at the time I started, but there was something about that first ball of sock yarn I saw in the yarn shop and almost from casting on my very first sock, I knew I would probably never really knit anything else.

I bet you are the same.  There’s something that flicks a switch for you and lights up your world, whether a career or a hobby.  Maybe it’s something that runs in your family and you might be one of several generations who have followed a particular path, but maybe it’s not and you are drawn to making a new pathway of your own.   It’s this sort of thing that really intrigues me.  Is it nature or nurture?  A sign of free will or that you are on the Earth to do something special?  Because even if whatever you are drawn to do is something that stays very close to home, it’s something that affects how you are with yourself and with other people and you would be a very different person without it.

I don’t know whether small daughter’s pathway will run all the way to a life in Japan, and at the moment, it doesn’t matter.  She’s enjoying discovering about the country and the culture, she’s doing pretty well teaching herself the language and some of the boy band music that’s constantly echoing around the house is actually quite good.  It’s a positive pathway and I don’t think it hurts to see where they lead, even if you’re stepping away from family tradition.  That’s how we all grow.


A selection of Japanese books - learning the language, the art of Spirited Away and a Wagamama cook book

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34 Responses

  1. Margaret Woodcock says:

    I totally agree with your musing this month it’s amazing where small beginnings take you. Even just a hobby I too have been surprised at my love of sock knitting and always have at least one sock on the needles. But I am enjoying knitting the Light Flax Sweater from TinCanKnits and using up all my 4ply sock yarn needless to say it’s a very bright sweater even my friend recognised yarn from BumpyCrafts I think there are four sprinkled around the sweater.
    Again always enjoy your monthly musings Christine and always read with my morning coffee. Luv Margaret 😘

    • winwickmum says:

      That sounds like it’s going to be a lovely sweater, and it’ll be full of memories too as you remember where the yarn has come from! I love that we can end up discovering something that makes us happy right out of the blue! xx

  2. Sandra, Dain says:

    My grandmother always knitted socks. She taught me to knit when I was 4. I’ve only been knitting socks for the last 20 years but I’m completely addicted!

  3. Christine Hughes says:

    It’s very true that you never know were an interest will take you. As a child I picked up a book about Russia in the library, and became fascinated. I read huge amounts about the Romanov’s and became slightly obsessed with the mystery of Anastasia./Anna Anderson, it all lead to a dream holiday across the Soviet Union in 1990, and I’m hoping to go back in the future. A chance encounter with a book has given me so much joy and a life-long interest, and I hope you daughter finds as much joy in her passion as i have.

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh wow, that’s amazing! I’m so glad you were able to have your dream holiday (and that it was a dream holiday!) and I do hope you get to go back there again! xx

  4. Susan Rayner says:

    I am not sure how old small daughter is but the book Shogun by James Clavell fascinated me and I loved the insight into feudal Japan and some of it’s history! I knitted my first sock in school in Basel when I was about 9 – it was a pair of knee high plain grey socks with a folded top and a picot edging where the elastic band was fed in! Not sure that lighted a torch within me – but socks are now my absolute go to knit and not in plain grey either!! My mother did enough “make do and mending” during WWII to last her a lifetime so to have two daughters who are “obsessed” with arts and crafts is certainly odd for her! Our paternal Granny helped with things when we were small but we were so lucky to be able to go to school in Switzerland – thanks to my father’s job – to teach us really good handicrafts! I dreamed of being a Home Economics teacher but it was a dying art even in the 60s!! Still at least we have our hobbies!!

    • winwickmum says:

      She’s 15 so I probably shouldn’t be calling her “small daughter” any more! 🙂 I’d forgotten all about the book “Shogun”, it was always a classic on library bookshelves, wasn’t it? I am very impressed that you knitted knee high socks at the age of 9; not many people of that age would want to stick with it, I’m sure! I think it’s a shame that Home Economics isn’t a prominent subject in schools any more, although I always cross that I had to do cooking and sewing and never got to do woodwork or metalwork when I’d have liked to have had a go! 🙂 xx

  5. Kelli says:

    Christine – our daughter was also infatuated with Japan. Started at about six years old and blossomed from there. She ended up visiting in high school and studying Japanese in college. She taught English there after college with the JET (Japanese English Teacher program) after she graduated. It was a great experience for our entire family. I enjoy reading your musings!

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, that’s amazing! I’ve never heard of JET so I’ll pass that on for small daughter to investigate, thank you! I’m really glad your daughter enjoyed the experience xx

  6. Anne Youngman says:

    Hi, my eyes lit up seeing your post about your daughter deciding to learn Japanese , my granddaughter Julia also had an “out of the blue” idea and is teaching herself Japanese using Duolingo.
    It’s lovely when children develope these interests and have the tenacity to follow them up . I wish your daughter ever success.

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh, isn’t that funny? I hope that Julia is getting on very well! You’re right, it is lovely when children follow up on their ideas, it’s an adventure to see where it takes them! xx

      • Maria says:

        My daughter and son are also Japan fans and learn also with duolingo japanese. They also love to cook Ramen for all of us. Thanks a lot for your book ideas.

  7. Juliana Ellington says:

    This is such a cool post. Isn’t it crazy that your younger daughter is mysteriously drawn to Japan? And you to ancient Rome and your husband to WWII? I hope your daughter will consider a semester abroad if she is still interested when she is the right age (junior or senior in high school?), or a semester of college when she is considering college programs. This interest could open so many opportunities for her. Life is strange.

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes, she’s already looking at university degrees that might let her travel as part of the course so we’ll have to see where that takes her. She still has a couple of years to go before university so of course she could change her mind entirely by then, but this has been a fascination of hers for a good few years now so we’ll see! xx

  8. Ellen says:

    As a former teacher, I recognize one quality of a ”gifted” child in your small daughter. That special interest leads the child to acquire a remarkable knowledge of their subject. Your daughter may well become an enthusiastic lifelong learner who is happiest when she is learning something new. Thank you for sharing!

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, that’s kind of you to say, thank you! She is a smart cookie and I am sure you are right, she’s always going to find something new to learn – there really is always something new to discover, isn’t there?! xx

  9. Michelle says:

    It’s funny isn’t it how things suddenly take us by surprise most of the time. My eldest son was always a home bird and off he went to Cumbria University and then didn’t come home he made Cumbria his home he just fell in love with it. He met a lovely young lady and they are getting married this year. I think I knew I would always knit as I used to love watching my Gran and her sisters knit when they got together nothing engrossed me more than watching them. I’m 55 now and yet I can still recall holding my Grans hand walking to the wool shop. Once inside it felt like I was in the sweet shop. I am still forever grateful that I knit its my guilty pleasure and I still feel like I am a little girl every time I go to a wool shop or one of the many shows when I buy yarn (which is a lot) x wishing little daughter all the very best x

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, never feel guilty about having a hobby that makes you feel good! I know exactly what you mean about the sweet shop feeling, I always have to resist running round a yarn shop saying, “one of those, and one of those … and one of those” as I cram yarn into my basket! What a lovely story about your son, I wish him and his fiancee all the best for the future xx

  10. Virginia Vincent says:

    It is amazing to me the paths we take. And the separate paths our children take. My oldest is about to turn 21. He has been planning his move to Japan since he was 15 years old. He would have been spending several weeks this fall there to lay some groundwork and get a feel for the place, except the world ended and delayed plans.

    • winwickmum says:

      Wow, that’s incredible! And what a shame that the world is as it is at the moment and he can’t get there just yet. I do hope that he’s able to travel soon xx

  11. Connie says:

    My daughter in law’s brother moved to Japan (from Virginia in the US) after college for 2 years (2017-2020). He taught English there and absolutely loved it. His apartment was tiny, I mean tiny, but it was subsidized by the government so it was super cheap. I’m a big BTS fan, so I identify with her having a Korean boy band on repeat!

    • winwickmum says:

      Ha ha, that “certain boy band” I mentioned is BTS and I can often be found humming one of their songs! My husband took my daughter out to Manchester yesterday and she came home in a state of high excitement as they’d found BTS coffee in a Korean supermarket 🙂 xx

  12. Leigg says:

    I walked into my LYS one yarn shop day and asked to be taught how to knit socks, I hadn’t even finished my first ever knitting project. My mum wasn’t a knitter, my granny was and my Shetland aunt and uncle were but none of them really did it in front of me. From there I was hooked and I ended up in a certain Sockalong, made wonderful friends and made a trip or two to Yarndale where I met some of them in person. The rest is history.

  13. Paula Middleton says:

    I am an army brat born in Tokyo (1951)so I have a connection and sometimes think i would like to revisit. My niece loves Loop and has actually followed a band from the States to Japan. We all have something that calls us.

    • winwickmum says:

      I agree, I guess the hard thing sometimes is letting yourself be called if it’s out of the ordinary or your comfort zone! I do hope you get to go back to visit one day xx

  14. Mairi says:

    My 20 year old daughter is so into Asian culture. She is talking about traveling to Japan next year. She is into K-pop, cooks Ramen, loves anime and manga. My son has just bought himself a motorcycle and nobody we know owns or rides one. Hope you daughter continues to enjoy the fascinating culture

    • winwickmum says:

      Your daughter sounds just like mine! 🙂 The internet has made it so much easier to discover different cultures, hasn’t it, and there are so many ways that we can experience the food now whereas when I was little, there would have been no chance of that! xx

  15. Ruthie says:

    I love that small daughter is obsessed with Japan. I have always been drawn to the North, but although my Nan was from Staffordshire, that’s as far north as I knew anyone was from, until I discovered a close family connection with Yorkshire – people we had completely lost touch with. I just wonder if somehow it’s in the genes.

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