Life Is More Than Making Money

He looks at the outside poignantly for a while. And then he continues, “To my great sadness, my two brothers emigrated to America six years ago. They’ve been telling me that I have to go there because I can have a better life over there with a lot of money. What does it mean by that? They are talking constantly as if making money were everything for life. I am so ashamed of them, and I’ve decided to stop contacting with them for years now. I like Mexico, you know. People are very generous here and are down to on earth. I can still feel humanness in them, and they apparently have compassion toward humanity. I might not have a lot of money, but I have enough money to support myself and am proud of myself for remaining as a human being with consideration. Young man, remember that, money is just a paper and nothing more and nothing less. If you let yourself lose over money, not only lose your dignity, but your life on this earth as well. Life is more than making money, I assure you, young man. I am over fifty years old. My experiences have taught me these imperative integrities. I’m telling you all of these things, because my instinct keeps on telling me that you are different from contemporary and aimless young men. Tell me, why are you coming to Mexico, and what is your intention for your life?”

I am stunned at his vehemence of America, and at the same time, I cannot help admiring his intelligence. He told me all of them with a complete calmness. His way of talking somehow impresses me, and I involuntarily start to tell him about my life story, acknowledging that I came to Mexico in order to start writing a book; conceding how I have been struggling in vain to write for years despite of my fervid efforts; confessing how I had suffered, and how I had felt useless and a total failure in Japan.

Could You Kindly Accept A Small Favor?”

Gerardo listened to our conversation keenly. As soon as the gentleman walks away, he says, “Very strange guy, eh? I don’t think America is the whole reason for our sorry economic circumstances right now. I think every country is suffering from economic disasters right now, including Japan. It’s wrong for him to blame America for our economic situations, but it’s only my opinion, so I don’t know exactly what is right or wrong, man.”

While we are eating, suddenly the gentleman calls to me, “Hey Japanese! Come to my table.”

Gerardo says curiously, “He is obviously interested in you. Go to talk with him, Shogo. And tell me what he wants from you. I will be waiting for you here.”

As soon as I approach the gentleman’s table, he bids me to sit down with him for a while by saying, “Could you kindly accept a small favor?”

“Depend on what kind of a favor, I guess.”

He looks at my eyes squarely and begins his monologue, “I was born in Mexico and my brothers as well. But my parents are Irish. They came to Mexico when they were around thirty. That is why I can speak English fluently. As I told you, I hate America, but not only the political point of view; I hate American way of lifestyle also. They think that money is everything. They think if they have money, they can do whatever they desire. That is completely wrong. Understand, young man? They have fine technology, they have superb industrial systems, they have the big continent, and they have monstrous skyscrapers everywhere, and so on and so forth. It seems they are better than Mexicans. But don’t make yourself foolish enough to be rushing to judge everything from the appearance, since it can mislead you easily. Americans are lacking of the essential thing: Human sympathy. They’ve apparently forgotten how to respect people as bothers. They are thoroughly falling for money. They will do anything in order to make money. What a repugnant attitude! Because of the obsession with money, they are degenerates and depraved, especially in the moral way of life.”

We Have Been Living in the Insane World

The gentleman is visibly astonished at my remarks, “Oh well, maybe, I’ve never been to Japan, so naturally, I don’t know exactly what Japan is like. I don’t know whether Japanese have been corrupted by advanced technology, as you explicated, but my image of Japan is pretty good though. Also I don’t know whether advance technology is a bad thing for Japanese either. In my opinion, great technology makes the world better place, don’t you agree with me?”

“Maybe, it makes it convenient to live though,” I reply contemplatively, “what I’m trying to say here is too much technology has the power to dwindle people’s mental state. Just look at how your praised technology has made people lunatic nowadays. If the purpose of advanced technology was improvement solely for human living conditions, I would say you are absolutely right to praise it. However, mad people have been using the advanced technology to make nuclear weapons to kill fellow men all over the world for decades. You can’t deny this transparent fact, can you? Moreover, because of advanced technology, a number of advanced crimes have occurred all over the world also. When people invent more advanced technology, more advanced crimes will occur all over the world simultaneously. It is inevitable, so to speak. And then more policemen will be busy chasing criminals and racking their brains to solve out intricate problems. I suppose advanced technology only makes life more complicated. We have been living in the insane world – if I think about the world conditions seriously, I will be out of my mind.”

He is awed with my intense speech and replies, “I am very impressed, but it’s very difficult for me to swallow everything you’ve said. Despite everything, I can smell the truth in your ardent discourse. However, I don’t know why you’re talking about your own country in such a defiant fashion, but I suppose you have your own reasons to be aggressive because you are obviously an intelligent young man. By the way, I don’t like America. They’ve been ruining us. Because of them, we’re suffering from destitution. Look at Obama, who has been playing with economy. He has been using the budgets to experiment with economics as if it were his own personal game. In my opinion, he is worse than Bush. He evidently doesn’t care whether we, Mexicans, have been suffering from his experiments.”

I do not quite understand what he is raving about due to my ignorance of politics. I have never been interested in politics in all my life and believe that the world would be a better place without the government. I thought that he must have his own reasons for being resentful, as I do for Japan. Consequently, I decide not to contradict him and not to ask the reason for his resentment. I simply say, “I don’t know if America has caused bad influences over Mexicans’ lives, since I don’t know about politics very well.”

Pause.

He looks at me solemnly, “Anyway, it is very pleasurable to meet the Japanese young man in Mexico, who obviously has his own vision and opinions. You have a rare quality, young man. You talk passionately about what you perceive and what you are interested in, and you are ready to admit your ignorance openly when things are beyond your knowledge and understanding. I like you, young man, welcome to Mexico! I hate Americans, but I love Japanese very much. I really hope you will have a good time here,” he walks on to a table with his food.

It Must be Wonderful to Live in Japan

It has been past 6:30 p.m. Gerardo and I are indulging in having spent an idle day since it is the twenty-fifth of December. “Shogo, I’m thinking we should go to Starbucks to just relax. Today is Christmas, so everywhere is supposed to be closed. We have only a few options. What do you think?”

“Yap, let’s go, my friend!”

When we arrive at Starbucks, it is full of people already. Maybe, they have nothing to do today and want to just relax as well. I suddenly change my mind and say, “Gerardo, we should go to Burger King to eat something and just go home to rest. Here are a lot of people, so we might not find a table.”

He consents, “Yeah, you are right. It might be a good idea to eat something there and just go home because I am too lazy today and still feel tired.”

When we enter Burger King, not too many people are eating. While we are queuing to order our food, a gentleman, who is a quite old-aged man of present mien, courteous, affable with gray hairs on his turf, suddenly advances toward me as large as life in order to commence a conversation with me, “Hola, como estas?”

I reply amiably, “Estoy bien, gracious, y tu?”

“Estoy bien, gracias por preguntar.”

“De donde eres?” he asks.

“Japon.”

He must have been thinking that I speak Spanish fluently because he suddenly starts gushing with excitement, “Oh, tu eres japones, respeto la cultura japonesa. Que te hizo venire a Mexico? Estas estudiando o trabajando?”

In order to make him understand that I cannot speak Spanish; I just pretend to speak it fluently, I fire my favorite phrase away, “No puedo hablar espanol.”

Here Gerardo rescues me, “No puedo hablar espanol. El habla ingress.”

The gentleman shifts languages and talks to me in English, “I am very much fond of Japanese. Tokyo is the most expensive city to live around the world. Japan has the best technology and has produced the most advanced technology in the world as well. I really respect Japan in every way. Also, Japan is very beautiful country. I saw on TV that exquisite skyscrapers are everywhere in Tokyo, and they are beautifully illuminated in the night. It must be wonderful to live in Japan.”

Here I feel obliged to interrupt him, “I didn’t know Tokyo is the most expensive city to live in around the world. I thought it was London. Anyway, you’re right about the technology. Yap, Japan has the most advanced technology, that I admit; however, you’d better know it has been degenerating Japanese shamelessly. If you have an opportunity to visit Japan, you will see Japanese people’s depraved behaviors, with gadgets everywhere. When I was in Japan, I couldn’t see my own countrymen’s visible depravities, without being blushed with humiliation. If Japan was the wonderful country as you said, I wouldn’t come here to start a new life in the first place. Don’t you think so?”

Life Is Just Not Earning Money; Life Is More Than That

I tell you, my fellow Japanese, losing your dignity and life over money is the worst lame excuse to defend yourselves. I know what you are. If you contemplate your hysterical daily activities seriously, you will realize that you sweat for nothing except money. And then you will have no choice, but end up in a mental asylum or commit suicide. Consequently, you keep on continuing the same daily routine blindly, without questioning anything, so that you should not happen to stumble on the truth accidentally. Your cowardly attitudes toward life make me abashed. I tell you, having money without life is nothing. Life is just not earning money; life is more than that. Life is immense and consistently full of enjoyment and surprises.

I tell you, my fellow Japanese, the meaning of life is not working five days a week until you become decrepit, nor keeping on earning money till death, nor pretending to be someone else for the sake of earning money till the dying day. In my humble opinion, the meaning of life is realizing who you truly are, doing every day what your heart desires, and enjoying just being alive. Above all, making friends is the most essential one. Even though I have still been seeking for the meaning of life myself, I ought to force even you to comprehend that I am close to the truth. If you will not start enjoying your life and will not try to figure out who you truly are, you are dangerously wasting your limited time on this delightful earth.

If you still have ears, listen to me, my fellow Japanese, if you still have ounce of pride left, you ought to start examining whether your hectic daily activities produce any joy and whether your attitudes toward life produce any enthusiasms every day. If you do, you will understand what I am trying to say here. I give you a clue of how to start changing your life. Try to find what your inner voice tells you, try to find what you want to do for the rest of your life, and try to believe in your unique personality. Enjoying your life every day is the starting point for you. If you do not know how to enjoy life, just halt your meaningless daily activities and take a vacation to visit Mexico. Mighty sunshine will welcome you, and you will find a peace at your heart. Mexicans are experts at enjoying life since it is in their blood. In addition, they are willing to teach you how to enjoy life. Do not be shy, just come to Mexico to learn how to enjoy life from them, my fellow Japanese.