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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: As new era approaches, embrace change positively

Rika Kayama (Mainichi)

Japan's new era name has been announced. I have gotten used to the fact that students I teach at university are born in the Heisei era, but recently, many of the medical interns I meet at hospitals are also born in the Heisei era.

A day may come when I'll be asked by my junior doctors, "What? You became a doctor in the Showa era? What was medical care like at that time?"

Some say nothing will change with just a different era name, while others say it will rejuvenate people's mindset and society as a whole. I personally think individuals should take it either way that works positively for them.

The New Year and the new fiscal year should be treated similarly. At my examination room, I advise patients who experienced bad things in the previous year to forget the unpleasant things with the arrival of the New Year. But for patients who had been gradually recovering I say, "Let's proceed step by step, and don't worry much about the changing year."

Some people may say I'm not consistent in what I say, but individuals ought to have a right to embrace seasonal, monthly and other types of changes as well as their birthdays as they please.

As for myself, I was simply busy when Showa turned to Heisei since I was about to finish my second year as a medical intern. I didn't have that much time to relax at home because I was often on duty and had to return to the hospital when the condition of an admitted patient suddenly changed. I don't even remember seeing the news conference in which then Chief Cabinet Secretary Keizo Obuchi raised a board bearing the era name Heisei.

I didn't have the chance to recall what Showa meant to me at the time, and just thought that another day began at the hospital.

Come to think of it, I regret not taking ample time to recall my own life and Japan in the Showa era. But I was probably caught up in my daily life and couldn't afford the time to do so. Moreover, I didn't feel much need for things to begin anew. I must have been happy just as I was during that time.

I wonder how many people who come to the examination room will refer to the upcoming era name change and say they hope for emotional rejuvenation.

Some people may say, "I thought everything would completely change with the new era name, but it immediately went back to the way it was before." I plan on telling such people about the Nijushi Sekki, or 24 seasonal divisions based on the lunisolar calendar. According to this calendar, the month of May has two turning points called Rikka and Shoman. I might say, "It's alright, things will start again at those points."

I also want to refresh my mind as much as possible with the upcoming era name change.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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