Which generation are you?
"Tim Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, and the godfather of the “lifestyle entrepreneur” movement, said it best: 'Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it.'”
Every now and again I pick up "The 4-hour Workweek" and read a page or two. (Ditto with "$100 Startup" and similar books.) I didn’t come across that quote, though, until I was reading this. Makes sense. I'm at the point in my life where I can't really be bothered to suck up to a boss or supervisor. I'm also at the point where I don't really have to anymore. I'm kind of in control of most of those Ws.
But, just as I'm thinking, okay, I'm in control now and things are looking pretty darn good, I get a call from an old friend who offers me a trade-off: forfeit those Ws in exchange for more money. How do you put a price tag on each of those Ws?
This is a story “Wacky”, the owner of a number of shoe stores here in Fukuoka, related to me the other day:
"A high school boy came into my George Cox shop this afternoon and asked if I remembered him. I replied that I didn’t, but when he told me that he had come to the shop with his father six months earlier it all came back to me.
"He had come with his father to try and get his old man to buy a pair of Creepers for him. During the hour or so that the two of them were there, we talked about all kinds of things and I mentioned a high school girl who had once come to the shop. She, too, had wanted to get someone—her grandmother, in this case—to buy the shoes for her. I told her that shoes like these—at ¥37,000 they aren’t cheap, after all—weren’t the kind of thing you should be trying to get someone purchase for you.
"When the boy heard that, it gave him pause and he decided against having his father buy them. Instead, he went out and got a job at a convenience store, and for the next six months he worked part-time before and after school, saving what he earned. And now he was back at my shop, wanting to buy the shoes with his own money."
I joked that Wacky should have refused to sell the kid the shoes and chewed him out instead for breaking school rules by getting a job. “The little brat should have his nose in a textbook right now and not thinking about shoes and fashion and other nonsense.”
Kidding aside, though, I had to admit that it was quite a lesson the boy had learned and told Wacky so: “He’ll treat those shoes with the utmost care now that he knows what it took to buy them. You may have very well just saved the boy from a life of indolence and purposelessness.”
Late nights fueled by instant coffee and Jolt Cola, researching the old-fashioned, painstaking way by checking out books and journals from the library, or scanning over microfiche, and then jotting down your notes and quotes on a stack of 3x5 cards. Your drafts were usually written by hand, on a yellow legal pad; the final draft punched out on a manual—electric if you were “lucky”—typewriter. Mistakes, which were not tolerated by my teachers at Jesuit High—more than two typos on a single page resulted in an automatic F—were corrected with Liquid Paper. Mistakes too big to paint over with correction fluid might oblige you to retype the entire page. (Better hang on to that original draft!)
At the risk of sounding like my my old man—who walked for an hour in waist-deep snow in his bare feet, mind you, just to get to school where, if the commute didn’t kill you, the teachers would thrash the pupils to within inches of their very lives, every day—let me just say that kids today don’t know how easy they’ve got it.
All nighter? No problem! Just pop one of these prescription uppers, and presto! Research? What the hell’s that? Just Google it, and whaddya know? Mr. Wiki has done the research for you! 3x5 cards? What are you, high? Copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste, copy and paste. Can’t spell if your life depended on it? Auto-correct! Grammar ain’t your forte? Microsoft Word or Grammarly will come to the rescue.
I was fortunate to grow up when I did, with my adolescence falling precisely at the time when the world was making the transition from analog to digital technology. Where I would enter high school using a manual typewriter and would in a few years go on to use an electric typewriter (which had a correction ribbon—what’ll they think of next?), by the time I was entering college, computers were starting to make their way into the average home. I worked part-time at a computer store during my freshman year, but it wasn’t until Apple came out with the original Macintosh that I started to have an inkling of the potential of computers. Before long, I was doing most of my writing on one computer or another, storing everything on 5 1/4-inch floppy disks.
Today, I have more computing, communicating, and researching power—not to mention fun—in my back pocket than I could have ever imagined only ten years ago. I’m looking forward to discovering what will happen in the world of technology over the next decade or two. I suspect, though, that the kids of the future will take their jet packs and phasers for granted just as much as kids today do their smart phones.
I don't know if it is the Japanese language (which has a sentence structure of SOV, where the subject and object are often implied rather than stated) or if this is a problem that all married men regardless of race have, but most of my conversations with my wife go something like this:
Wife starts conversation while I am in another room, “Hidé-chan mumble mumble mumble.”
”Hidé-chan mumble mumble mumble.
”I heard you say Hidé-chan the first time!!” (Growing exasperated.) “What the did you say before and after Hidé-chan???”
”Oh. I was just saying, every time I call Hidé-chan's mother to ask if he would like to join us . . . mumble mumble mumble.”
Wife (talking to me while I'm eating potato chips) and thus all but deaf: “Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble . . . closed . . . mumble.”
”Mumble, mumble, closed.”
”The store I just told you about?”
I could go on and on.
Now it's not so much that my wife is constantly mumbling. It's more an issue of her starting conversations when a normal human being is not expected to be listening or to able to hear. I cannot, for example, hear what she is trying to say to me when I am on the balcony and she is in the living room, or when I am in the shower, or when she is using the hairdryer, or . . . I'm not the Bionic Woman. I don't have a bionic ear.
This was originally posted in 2013:
Typhoon No. 4 is headed our way. The tropical storm, which is also known as Typhoon Leepi, is expected to reach southern Kyûshû early Friday morning.
Typhoon No. 3 which fizzled out just south of Kansai two weeks ago sparked a lot of discussion. Of interest to many Japanese was not how early the typhoon had arrived—they normally don't hit our shores until late summer—but rather the name of the storm: Typhoon Yagi (goat).
In Japan where typhoons are usually known by their numbers—something that can be confusing when trying to recall a typhoon of years past—most people were surprised to learn that the storms had names at all.
The second most common reaction was: "Who on earth would name a typhoon after a goat?"
Ever since the year 2000, all tropical storms originating in the northwest pacific or South China Sea have been given names. The names are supplied by the fourteen countries in the region affected by typhoon: Cambodia, China, North Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Micronesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. The meaning of the names come from a variety of sources, from mythological gods and nature to the names of flowers or of boys and girls.
The ten names chosen by Japan in the current list are all constellations. Typhoon No.3 or Typhoon Yagi is actually Typhoon Capricornus (やぎ座, yagi-za). The last typhoon named by Japan was Typhoon Libra (てんびん座, tembin-za).
As for the name of this latest typhoon, Leepi, it apparently comes from the name of a waterfall in the south of Laos. Typhoon No.5 will be called Bebinca (pudding). You can thank the people of Macau for that one.
For more on typhoons visit the website of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
. . .
This morning, Kyūshū will be hit by Typhoon No. 8, which is also known as Typhoon Francisco, a name that was supplied by the United States. Typhoon No. 9, which is expected to affect Okinawa and the southeastern coast of China, is called Lekima, the Vietnamese name for egg fruit. We are currently at numbers 42 and 43 of that list of 140 names. A few years back when we were near the end of the list, I thought that a new list of 140 names would be produced. Guess again. They have merely recycled through the list. If I am not mistaken, this is the third time we are going through the list as it takes about six years to use up all the names.
In my writing class a student wrote that she had been cooking a lot recently and tried to make kara'agé. The sentence looked something like this:
Recently I challenged KARAAGE.
I asked her if she knew how to say kara’agé in English. She thought about if for a while, thought about it some more, gave it some more thought, then shrugged.
“How do you make kara'agé?”
“Meat . . . fry . . .”
“You fry the meat?”
“What kind of meat?”
“What kind of bird? Suzume (sparrow)?”
“No, not suzume! Tori. Bird!”
“You know the restaurant KFC?”
“What does KFC stand for?”
“Kentucky Furiedo Chicken.”
“So . . .?”
“Yes! So, you had better write: ‘I tried—not challenged—I tried to make fried chicken.’”
As she was writing this down, I asked her what the difference between fried chicken and kara’agé was.
“Bones,” she answered.
“You mean, fried chicken has bones and kara’agé doesn't?”
“Well, actually, fried chicken and kara’agé are pretty much the same thing. Sometimes fried chicken has bones, sometimes it doesn’t. What I mean to say is the presence of bones is not a determining factor in fried chicken.”
Moving on, I asked the girl if she knew what the kara (唐) of kara'agé meant.
She replied with a guess: “Karatto (からっと)?”
“No, no, no.”
Karatto means “nice and crisp” or “dry”. Several of the students told me that they had thought the same thing. I turned to one of the students from Kagoshima and asked her how to say sweet potato in her local dialect. She thought about it for a moment and answered:
“No, no, no. ‘Satsumaimo’ (lit. “Satsuma (the former name for Kagoshima) potato”) is standard Japanese. Don’t you have another word for satsumaimo?”
She gave this some thought and then said, “No.”
“How about kara imo?”
Her eyes lit up, and, nodding her head, she said, “That’s right, we do say kara imo?”
“So what does kara mean? It’s written with the same kanji.”
Another student had the answer: China.
“Yep,” I said. “Kara means China. Satsumaimo are called kara imo in Kagoshima because they—the potatoes, that is, not the people—originally came form China.”
Kara (唐) actually refers to the Táng cháo (唐朝), or Tang Dynasty (618-907). “So . . . kara’agé means ‘Chinese-style fried chicken’.”
“Why does he know this?” someone in the back muttered.
“Why don’t you?” I shot back.
. . .
I should add that although the word “kara’age” has been around for quite sometime, it was written 空揚げ or から揚げ until the 40s. I’ll write more about this later.
6-day weeks, 10-plus hour days . . . Summer is finally here and it couldn’t have come sooner.
Fifty years ago on the morning of July 16th, Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida beginning its 8-day mission to the moon and back, fulfilling the goal President Kennedy proposed in 1961. While I do not remember this particular mission, I do have very clear recollections of subsequent ones, particularly Apollo 15 in 1971, which was the first of the so-called “J Missions” which remained on the moon for three days and featured the “Moon Buggy”, or Lunar Roving Vehicle.
A few years back I was talking to my old friend Rowland about work and my co-workers, one of them in particular. Rowland asked if the guy had two sports coats.
“Not that I know of,” I replied. “Besides, it’s not that kind of workplace. We seldom wear suits there.”
“That’s one of the tricks,” Rowland said.
“To look busy. He keep one sport coat on the back of your chair, or on a coat rack. Makes you look like you are always in your office. Also, if you should leave a cup of half-drunk coffee on your desk at all times, it looks like you’ve been working hard.”
I laughed at the time, but it got me wondering about these sneaky little techniques. So, I did an online search on ways to look busy without really working and I’ll be damned if my co-worker hadn’t been doing most of them.
Rule one: always look as if you are in a hurry.
Rule: two: sigh a lot; feign exhaustion.
Rule three: carry a notepad with you.
Rule four: constantly remind people of how busy you are.
Rule five: keep your office light on at all times.
There was a lot of advice online, stuff that the guy had probably written himself.
Many children in Japan—the active ones, in particular—are amateur entomologists. Whenever they go out, they invariably return with bags and boxes and hands full of bugs. Today my family and I went to Mount Kizan (基山) in Saga Prefecture. No sooner had we got there than my wife and younger son started foraging through the tall grasses for insects. The hunt produced several grasshoppers and one huge preying mantis.
When we were leaving, the mantis caught one of the grasshoppers and bit its head off. It then proceeded to chomp the rest of its prey, save the wings and skinny forelegs. It is at the same time both disgusting and fascinating to watch a mantis in action, close up. Trust me on this. (Think Gladiator, only with exoskeletons and wings.) On our way home, my wife and sons fell asleep in the back seat. I was seated in the front seat, window open, elbow sticking out when I felt something crawling on my head. Then I heard what sounded like the fluttering of wings. At first, I suspected that a bug had flown into the car. It wasn’t until about fifteen minutes later when my wife woke up that I understood what had happened. “The mantis has escaped!!!” While my wife was asleep, her grip on the bag had weakened and the bug managed to crawl out. It then climbed up the back of my seat and onto the top of my head and flew out the window.
Unfortunately for the mantis it didn’t get very far. It rode for the next ten minutes on the top of our car, holding on for dear life.
"In the wake of defeat, approximately 6.5 million Japanese were stranded in Asia, Siberia, and the Pacific Ocean area. Roughly 3.5 million of them were soldiers and sailors. The remainder were civilians, including many women and children--a huge and generally forgotten cadre of middle-and-lower-class individuals who had been sent out to help develop the imperium. Some 2.6 million Japanese were in China at war's end, 1.1 million dispersed through Manchuria." (Dower: 1999, pp.48-49.)
I personally know (or rather knew, as many of them have since died) more than ten Japanese who were living abroad at the war's end. Their stories of repatriation are interesting ones.
My father-in-law was born on a ship that was returning to Japan a month before the surrender. I guess his parents had seen the writing on the wall and chose to get out of Dodge before things really turned really ugly. The Battle of Okinawa had finished only a few weeks earlier (June 22) so the waters between Taiwan and Kagoshima (where they were originally from) must have been crowded with Allied battle ships and aircraft carriers getting ready to mount an attack on the Japanese mainland. How their ship was able to pass safely is a mystery to me.
There were some 300,000 Japanese living on Taiwan, 90% of whom were expelled by April of 1946.
Another woman I know grew up in Taiwan. She was the daughter of a police officer on the island. The father of yet another woman was born in a small town on the southeastern coast of Taiwan. His family had been well-to-do, but lost everything when they left.
The father of a woman I know was a doctor in the Japanese Army in Manchuria. 1.6 to 1.7 million Japanese fell into Soviet hands "and it soon became clear that many were being used to help offest the great manpower losses the Soviet Union had experienced in the war as well as through the Stalinist purges." (Dower: 1999, p.52.) As a doctor, he was pretty much free to go were he liked and may have even had one of more Russian lovers during his time there. He remained in the USSR for I believe 8 years after the war. He was one of the few who did not want to be repatriated.
"From a logistical standpoint, the repatriation process was an impressive accomplishment. Between October 1, 1945 and December 31, 1946, over 5.1 million Japanese returned to their homeland on around two hundred Libert Ships and LSTs loaned by the American military, as well as on the battered remnants of their own once-proud fleet." (Dower: 1999, p.54.)
That answers a question I had about how so many people were able to return to Japan when four-fifths of all Japan’s ships had been destroyed. “The imperial navy had long since been demolished. Apart from a few thousand rickety planes held in reserve for suicide attacks, Japan’s air force—not only its aircraft, but its skilled pilot as well—had virtually cased to exist. Its merchant marine lay at the bottom of the ocean.” (Dower: 1999, p.43)
Strategic bombing, the military strategy employed in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale or its economic ability to produce and transport materiel, was used with a vengeance in the Pacific War. Sixty-six major cities in Japan had been bombed, “destroying 40 percent of these urban areas overall and rendering around 30 percent of their populations homeless,” writes John Dower in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat. “In Tokyo, the largest metropolis, 65 percent of all residences were destroyed . . . The first American contingents to arrive in Japan . . . were invariably impressed, if not shocked, by the mile after mile of urban devastation . . . Russell Brines, the first foreign journalist to enter Tokyo, recorded that ‘everything had been flattened . . . Only thumbs stood up from the flatlands—chimneys of bathhouses, heavy house safes and an occasional stout building with heavy iron shutters.’” (Dower: 1999, pp. 45-46.)
Having known of the extensive damage to Tokyo, it always perplexed me that certain buildings like those pictured here managed to remain, ostensibly unscathed by the bombings. Check out a satellite view of Tōkyō on GoogleMap and you’ll find many of these houses hidden like Fabergé Easter eggs in the urban sprawl of the metropolis.
As I was re-reading Dower’s masterpiece on Japan in the wake of WWII, I learned that it was no coincidence that these mansions were spared:
“Even amid such extensive vistas of destruction, however, the conquerors found strange evidence of the selectiveness of their bombing policies. Vast areas of poor people’s residences, small shops, and factories in the capital were gutted, for instance, but a good number of the homes of the wealthy in fashionable neighborhoods survived to house the occupation’s officer corps. Tokyo’s financial district, largely undamaged would soon become “little America,” home to MacArhur’s General Headquarters (GHC). Undamaged also was the building that housed much of the imperial military bureaucracy at war’s end. With a nice sense of irony, the victors subsequently appropriated this for their war crimes trials of top leaders.” (Dower: 1999, pp. 46-47.)
I have more photos of these buildings and houses which I will upload later.
This painting of 45 of Tatsuno Kingō’s works, including The Bank of Japan (center) and Tōkyō Station (background) gives an idea what the Marunouchi area used to look like before the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923, WWII, and the Great Wrecking Ball of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. For more on Marunouchi, go here.
According to Wiki, “Following the Meiji Restoration, Marunouchi came under control of the national government, which erected barracks and parade grounds for the army.
“Those moved in 1890, and Iwasaki Yanosuke, brother of the founder (and later the second leader) of Mitsubishi, purchased the land for 1.5 million yen. As the company developed the land, it came to be known as Mitsubishi-ga-hara (the "Mitsubishi Fields").
“Much of the land remains under the control of Mitsubishi Estate, and the headquarters of many companies in the Mitsubishi Group are in Marunouchi.
“The government of Tokyo constructed its headquarters on the site of the former Kōchi han in 1894. They moved it to the present Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku in 1991, and the new Tokyo International Forum and Toyota Tsuho Corporation now stands on the site. Nearly a quarter of Japan's GDP is generated in this area.
“Tokyo Station opened in 1914, and the Marunouchi Building in 1923. Tokyo Station is reopened on 1 October 2012 after a 5 year refurbishment.”
My mind has been on Okinawa a lot since returning from there a few weeks ago. If time permits, I'll try to write down some of my thoughts about the trip in the coming days and post some photos, as well.
The other day, I was talking to a doctor. Although he was born near Kagoshima city and has been living in Fukuoka prefecture ever since graduating from medical school, his family originally hailed from Amami Ôshima. He told me that unlike most Japanese whose family names are written with two or three (and occasionally four) Chinese characters (e.g. 田中 - Tanaka, 清水 - Shimizu, 西後 - Saigo, 坂本 - Sakamoto, 長谷川 - Hasegawa, 長曽我部 - Chôsokabe etc.), the family names of the people of Amami Ôshima are often written with a single character (e.g. 堺 - Sakae, 中 - Atari, 元 - Hajime).
This calls for a brief history lesson.
In the late sixteenth century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (warrior and unifier of Japan 1537-1598) asked the Ryūkyū Kingdom for help in his ill-faited attempt to conquer Korea. Hideyoshi intended to take his ambitions on to China in the event that he succeeded in Korea, but as the Ryūkyū Kingdom was a tributary state of the Ming Dynasty, Hideyoshi’s request was turned down.
Having refused demands for aid on a number of occasions, the Ryūkyū Kingdom drew the ire of the newly established Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867) and Shimazu clan of southern Kyūshū, and in 1609 the Satsuma feudal domain (present-day Kagoshima prefecture) was given permission to invade the kingdom. While the the Ryûkyû Kingdom was able to regain some autonomy a few years later, Amami Ôshima and other islands north of present-day Okinawa were incorporated into the Satsuma domain. (Incidentally, the islands had been independent before being conquered by the Ryūkyū Kingdom in 1571.) These islands remain part of Kagoshima prefecture to this day although the inhabitants are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically—you name it—closer to Okinawa.
A side note is worth mentioning here: "The islands, by virtue of climmate, were ideal for cane cultivation, and sugar was in high demand in Osaka. To increase revenue, the domain began to reverse its agricultural policy, discouraging the cultivation of rice in favor of sugarcane. In 1746 the domain began collecting all taxes in sugar. In 1777 it established a state monopoly on sugar, making private sales punishable by death. This emphasis on sugarcane led to the most brutal aspect of the island economy: widespread slavery and indentured servitude . . . Cane cultivation was labor-intensive, dangerous, and exhausting, and the most productive farmers were plantation owners who could mobilize scores of unfree workers. By the 1800s the island elite, the district chiefs and local officials, were all slaveholders. By the mid-1800s nearly a third of the populace were yanchu, the island term for chattel slave." (From Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigō Takamori. Hoboken: Wiley, 2004, p.83.)
As was the case for ordinary people in Japan proper, the people of Amami did not have family names until the islands came under the control of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. Family names may have been used in order to keep track of who was entering and leaving the kingdom. During the time that the islands were under the control of the Satsuma han (feudal domain), the residents were classified as farmers under the four occupations social class structure and not permitted to have names. The surnames that survive today were assigned after the fall of the feudal system and Meiji restoration in the late 1860s.
Now there was an exception to certain residents of Amami who had made great contributions to the Satsuma rule. These people, however, were given family names that consisted of one character. One purpose in doing so was to draw a distinction between people from Satsuma and those from the islands. Another reason was that as a tributary of China, the Ryūkyū Kingdom had used Chinese surnames (known as karana, 唐名. lit. “Chinese name”), and assigning such surnames was a way of acknowledging the historical connection to Ryūkyū. (Don’t quote me on this as I’m merely summarizing what others have written in Japanese.)
At the beginning of the Meiji era (1875), all Japanese citizens were required to have family names and the people of Amami tended to choose one-character names that they were familiar with. For a list of these names visit here.
People from outside of Kyūshū often comment that food, especially the soy sauce, is sweeter here than elsewhere. That sweetness is a vestige of those sugar cane plantations.
The other day I overheard a student of mine mention that she was a manager at the McDonald’s where she was working.
“A manager? Really?” I said. “But you’re only, what, eighteen?”
“I just turned nineteen.”
“How long have you been working there?”
She replied that it was her fourth year at the hamburger joint, that she had started in her first year of high school when she was fifteen, something that also surprised me as very few high schools allow their students to work. I know what you’re thinking, whose business is it whether a student has a part-time job or not? In Japan, the teachers tend to make it their business. They want their charges focused on little else than their studies. (We can discuss the wisdom of such rules later.)
“And how long have you been manager?” I asked.
“Only a few months.”
She went on to explain that of the sixty to seventy employees at her restaurant (if you can call a Mickey Dees one), there were fifteen managers, all of whom were “part-timers”. Part-timers in the Japanese sense of the word meaning that they are not full-fledged employees of the McDonald’s Japan Corporation with bennies rather than someone working less than thirty-two hours a week. This particular woman was currently working six days a week for a total of about thirty-four or so hours each week. During the summer break she put in over forty hours a week.
“How many ‘full-fledged employees’ (正社員, seishain) are there at your branch?”
“Just one, the store manager (店長, tenchō),” she answered.
I once knew a twenty-something-year-old woman who was one of these tenchōs. The sweetest, most unassuming woman you could ever meet, she was managing what was one of Japan’s busiest branches. It wasn’t unusual for her to remain at work until four in the morning, go home, sleep a few hours, then return the next morning to do it all over again. Her dream was to work at Hamburger University, a training facility run by McDonald’s Corporation, and for all I know, she may be working there now.
I continued to badger my student about the details of her work and learned that when she first started working she earned ¥700 ($6.70) an hour, but after a few months was bumped up to ¥720 ($6.90). As manager she now earns ¥750 ($7.19) an hour, considerably less than the $8-15 per hour an “hourly manager” can make in the States, but then she is able to keep 90% or more of her income due to the low level of taxation on part-time work here. Her counterpart in the U.S. might see some 30% of his income withheld in the form of payroll and other taxes.
As manager, she is responsible for overseeing the shift, training new employees, managing the money, and dealing with customer complaints.
“I like the job,” she told me, but admitted that the customers can be insufferably petty at times.
“Why do you think you ended up staying so long in Japan?” Azami asks.
I have my pet theories; the top contender being this: to discover, à la Breakfast of Champions, how much a man can take before he ends up hanging himself.
“I think the reason you came to Japan,” she says, “was to meet me. Don’t you think so, too?”
Who knows? Maybe she is right. Then again, maybe she is wrong. Even if she were right, what would my coming to Japan have meant to all the other women I met along the way? Did I come to Japan to meet them, as well?
I give Azami a noncommittal shrug.
“You came here to meet me,” she continues with such confidence it’s hard to disagree. “Waited ten years, teaching all that time, so that you could learn what you really wanted and find the person you really needed.”
Well, at least she is convinced and that has to count for something, I suppose.
I’ve long had the gut feeling that existence is basically meaningless. No rhyme or reason to it all. But, humans being human can’t help trying to assign meaning and order to their otherwise chaotic, random lives and interpret life’s happenings with some kind of bias, be it religious, mythical, or philosophical. There is nothing wrong with that if it brings you closer to your “bliss”. A decade, though, is an awfully long time to look for someone, even someone like Azami.
“Ten years,” I say with an exaggerated grimace. “Why’d you make me wait so goddamn long?”
“Yeah, you. If we were meant to be together, why then didn’t you come around sooner, say, when you were still a freshman in high school? I wasn’t getting any younger, you know.”
The day is coming to an end.
The wind stills and the street below my balcony grows quiet.
A week has come and gone. Time passes too quickly.
One moment there is a phone call from a familiar voice and a visit by a woman I have come to love.
But, the next moment, I am saying good-bye, and am alone again,
My skin can feel it: time and love waits for no one.
I sometimes think that the only reason we have memories is that we might recall in bad times those times when we were happier. And with those memories, we are accoutred for our journey on,
Through the desert.
Small drops of water on a parched tongue.
I can get so thirsty at times.
But all I can do is press on,
One step at a time,
Each step sinking in the sand as I,
Search for the next oasis,
That is you.