When Do You Usually Feel Happy?

I asked another cigarette, and he reluctantly gave it to me. I lit it and said casually: “But, Yoshi, I just said you should take a vacation to learn new things and make new friends from different countries because they think and behave differently from Japanese. I just thought it might help you to understand the meaning of life. Anyway, it’s okay with me if you don’t want to see the world because it’s your life. Please forgive me for saying, but I pity you sincerely, because you said you have nothing to do if you have a lot of free time that implies you don’t have real friends. Life is immense and offers a lot of opportunities if you look at it another way. I know Japanese are busy at keeping their jobs, nothing more, and nothing less. Like you, they just waste their time making money and don’t know how to enjoy their lives. If you had real friends, you would always want to go out with them and would have a lot of plans to share your joy of life with them. By the way, you complained about your boss and job circumstances before if I remember correctly. Are you truly happy just working every single day for the rest of your life without anything to show for you dear life? When do you usually feel happy? I’m very sure that when you work, and your boss scowls at you for nothing, you are not happy. For that reason, I assume while you’re being on the job, you’re not happy. Tell me, Yoshi?”

Pause.

“I am happy when I finish my work and go home. I am happy to stay at home to do what I want to do, watching Japanese TV shows and playing video games. I’m no problem being rebuked because the company is not mine, and besides, my boss gives me the steady job. I feel secure. I don’t expect anything else from life, except my security. I am sorry, Shogo, I have to go to see a dentist right now. Please let me know your mobile phone number so that we can go drinking sometime.”

I gave him a wrong number and said, “See you around, Yoshi.”

“I’ll call you, Shogo. Maybe, I’ll let other friends know you’re in Japan now. Everyone wonders where you are and what you’ve become. See you soon, Shogo.”

Complete Boredom

I countered thoughtfully, “To be sure, I completely understand what you’re talking about. And I am not interested in politics, because people are too ignorant to know what to choose; therefore, we have a lot of parties anyway…. But really? You said you are happy to work every day, but I presume you don’t have any life. Actually, I can smell perfect resignation of life from you. Just working five days a week makes you happy? You don’t need a vacation? Have you taken two or three months of vacation recently? Do you have friends beside Japanese? It’s not life, Yoshi. Sometimes, you need to take a vacation to enjoy your life. You have to see the world sometimes, so that you can learn something new, which might expand your vision of your life. For me, I always take a vacation every six months to go to Mexico to see my friends. That makes me happy, and I always have a great time. My Mexican friends came to Japan two years ago, and we went Kyoto and China. That trip was awesome, too.”

He couldn’t listen anymore and made me stop talking by bellowing, “Shogo, just listening to you makes me annoyed. Why the hell should people see the world? You’re talking as if Japan was the worst place to live and as if just going to a job every day couldn’t make people happy. You have to know, I don’t need any vacation because if I always take a vacation, I’ll have nothing to do, just complete boredom. If I have a lot of spare time, actually, I don’t have anything to do. Consequently, it’s good for me to work constantly so that I won’t get bored every day. I don’t care about Mexicans, Americans, Europeans, or Canadians. I like Japanese people and women. I don’t need to go anywhere. Just having the good job and having two day offs a week satisfies me and is enough for me. Shogo, if you don’t like Japan, why are you staying here? Just leave Japan, I kindly suggest to you.”

I’m an Autodidact

Here I laughed at his perplexity and asked for a cigarette: “Give me a cigarette, Yoshi? Thanks.”

“I have a job and am working for a company, but it’s not important and nothing to talk about – for the sake of earning money, I’m just doing it. The main thing is writing. I’m writing in English, so that I’ll have a lot of opportunities to find publishers around the world. Also, I think Japanese can’t understand my book, like you don’t comprehend what I’m talking about right now.”

“I still don’t understand what you mean, Shogo. Who asked you to write the book? Do you have somebody to check your English? Who are you working for?”

“No, I am not working for anybody, and nobody asked me to write either. I am working for myself. I want to be an artist. I’m pretty sure that you don’t understand it either because, being Japanese, you can only comprehend how to go to work every day. I know art is like a trash to you. No, nobody checks my English because I’m an autodidact. I’m pretty sure too, being Japanese, that you don’t understand the way of one educating himself.”

He started getting irritated and threw the cigarette on the side work, “Shogo, you’re talking to me condescendingly. What’s wrong with being Japanese? I like Japan and like the Japanese way of life so much. I think you are screwy, because you think you can educate yourself without anyone’s instruction. You simply can’t do that if you really want to write books. First of all, you have to learn how to write, edit, and organize from some experts. That’s why we have teachers. I really don’t comprehend what you have in your mind. Furthermore, I like my job and am satisfied with my life. I have a good job and work five days a week, because now Japanese economic situation is bad, so some of my friends can’t work five days a week. Therefore, I am lucky to have the steady job. Besides, I’m interested in politics and am studying Japanese politics now. Maybe, you cannot understand that way.”

What Do You Do for Living

When I passed a drug store, an old friend was smoking a cigarette and waving his hand to me by calling my name, “Hey Shogo! What are you doing here? Come here to talk to me.”

I  was so surprised to see him, because he was often on my mind, and I was wondering what he was doing, because I had been away from Japan for several years, and indeed, I had not seen him over eleven years: “ Hey Yoshi, long time no see! What a surprise! I’m on my way to go home. What are you doing here?”

“I got a cavity, which makes me perturbed, and I want to get rid of it now. I’m waiting my turn to be seen. Moreover, I am exhausted, because today was a hectic day, and my boss rebuked me from nothing. He was just frustrated, I guess. Anyway, where did you come from just now?”

“I went to the park to ponder over something important. Walking streets aimlessly and strolling around the park are sort of my job, so to speak.”

“Shogo, you haven’t changed anything at all and look exactly the same as when we met the last time. And I don’t understand what you are talking about ‘as usual’. Why don’t you cut off bullshit such as strolling around the park, etc.? Just talk to me straightforward! What do you do for living?”

“Yoshi, let me explain in more plain words. I’ve been writing a book.”

He was perplexed and said, “I really don’t comprehend what you’re talking about. Are you writing in Japanese or what kind of language? Who are you writing for? What kind of racket are you in? Are you writing for a company? I know you’ve been abroad for a long time. America, perhaps? I forget. Shogo, please make me understand. Just let me know which company you are working for?”