There Is Only One Glory: In Being Alive

Giono 1From my child food on, one thing has constantly kept bothering me: why do people make wars? I do not understand why people have not learned anything from the history. Wars do not make the world a better place; on the contrary, they always bring sadness. Many innocent people have been killed because of wars. What does mean defending one’s native land? Is it worthwhile to die for one’s native country? I do not think so. There are no Japan, America, England, Mexico, Russia, Germany, France, but someone invented the shame names. People always distinguish themselves from nationalities, but we are all human beings; we are all come from the same source. Each people have own destiny to fulfill and are right to enjoy our own private life, and you cannot take away from our right on this earth. Hope that people will realize that many people have to bear to anguish over the loss of a loved one because of wars and will realize that there is only one glory: In being alive. Peace is wonderful! Why do we just try to make peace without wars? Giono expressed his feeling profoundly in Blue Boy:

My poor Louise! Life is all about this little room where I am writing. Listen to the poplar and the south wind. Smell that odor of oak logs. Look! Outside the window the whole dark plain is alight. It is night. The farms down there are burning dry leaves, carts are rumbling along the roads. A timid girl is singing beneath the willows as she feels about in the dark to gather in the washing. I know that you are there, behind me, always. Behind me now as I write. I know that your friendship is more faithful than all the loves in the world and that it is, humbly, of another quality. But I want you to have your place among all those who can pick apples, eat figs, run, swim, beget urchins, live.

More selfishly, Luis, I want you here for my own sake. I listen. There is not a sound here. Only outside, the rain and the wind are beginning. Here, here, where are you? Over there in the shadow of the bureau there is only my bed. That dark object yonder is my shepherd’s cape. I’ll go and see. No, nothing but my cape and my scarf and my beret. Empty, my beret. No skull inside: soft. You are not here. Where are you then? In front of my books, those two or three that you would always pick up and stand reading? Are you there? I touch the books. The dust is still on them. Luis, I tell you, I need you this evening. This evening, and every day that has passed without you, and every day to come, I need your friendship. Oh! I have looked old man. Do you remember the time we used to talk about all those things up in the hills? I have sought like that. You know that I must have offered. You saw me? You know what they did with it. No, I need you. And where can I look for you? I feel your presence in my heart, but I know that I would have peace if I could see you here in the armchair smoking your pipe.

If you had only died for honorable things; if you had fought for love or in getting food for your little ones. But, no. First they deceived you and then they killed you in the war.

What do you want me to do with this France that you have helped, it seems, to preserve, as I, too, have done?  What shall we do with it, we who have lost all our friends? Ah! If it were a question of defending rivers, hills, mountains, skies, winds, rains, I would say, “willingly. That is our job. Let us fight. All our happiness in life is there.” No, we have defended the sham name of all that. When I see a river, I say ‘river’; when I see a tree, I say ‘tree’; I never say ‘France.’ That does not exist.

Ah! How willingly would I give away that false name that one single one of those dead, the simplest, the most humble, might love again! Nothing can be put into the scales with human heart. They are all the time talking about God! It is God who gave the tiny shove with His finger to the pendulum of the clock of blood at the instant the child dropped from its mother’s womb. They are always talking God, when the only product of His good workmanship, the only thing that is godlike, the life that He alone can create, in spit, with the blessing of all your churches. What logic.

There is no glory in being French. There is only one glory: in being alive.

You are a shadow there, behind my chair. I shall never touch your hand again. You will never lean against my shoulder. I shall never hear your voice again; never see your good face with its honesty and its broad smile. I know that you are there, near me, as are all the dead I have loved and who have loved me, like my father, like one or two others.

But you are dead.

I do not hate the one who killed you with a bullet through your stomach. They deceived him as they deceived you. They told him that the rivers were named ‘Germany.’ They made him write in his note book: “Objective is the…”

I hate the one who dictated.

Mr. Yano

Thank God! Job is over! I survived today! Light as a bird I am skipping on my way to Sibuya Station to catch a train. It is as though I had been released from a prison. But soon enough, the sight of crowded people that make me irritated and disgusted diminishes my high spirit. I can see only exhausted people’s faces, traffic jams, and grotesque skyscrapers. While crossing a bridge, I hear someone calling my name over my shoulder, “Mr. Onoe, are you going home?”

“Yes, Mr. Yano, I am exhausted emotionally. How about you?”

“No, I am looking for you because I want to have a word with you. I always want to talk with you, but I never have an opportunity to talk with you after work. You seem anxious to me whenever the finishing time approaches, and as soon as working hours are over, you sneak out of the office like a fugitive.”

“Ha-ha-ha, you are a funny guy, Mr. Yano. But I can’t bear the office’s atmosphere. You know we have a bunch of idiots –”

“Mr. Onoe, I admire you so much because you always tell the truth. Yes, our office has a bunch of idiots, I admit. By the way, Ms.Yamada always yells at you, but you seem not to care about anything and work as if nothing happened. It seems to me that you are always on your own way. It’s a rare character among Japanese, Mr. Onoe. Are you hungry? Can I invite you to dinner? Can you spare your precious time with me? I know a number of books are waiting to be studied at your home, because you are a serious man with literature at your heart, but I really need to talk with you.”

“Sure, Mr. Yano. Let’s eat something delicious.”

“I don’t have enough money to invite you to an expensive restaurant, but I know a place where we can eat delicious food cheaply.”

Mr. Yano is my only colleague with whom I let myself talk. He is twenty-four years old and has a lot of curiosity about life. He graduated from Tokyo University a year ago, but he did not look for a permanent position, because he could not see any sense working for a Japanese company and thought that it is an insane idea for him to work under the Japanese working conditions. Instead of like other graduates who look for opportunities to have a permanent job, he took a part-time job to have a time to think about his future for a while. But the problem was that he could not earn enough money to support himself, so he reluctantly decided to work for Benefit One.


For My Fellow Seekers

kyoto2In order to tell my story, I should go back to my early twentieth year when my whole misery and tragedy began being unbearable. I just wanted to be true myself all the time and wanted to express myself freely. However, Japan did not allow me to express myself freely; I was restricted. The worst part was that Japan tried to manipulate me to become a useful citizen for the part of Japanese society like everybody else, with absolutely no concerns about my individuality and tried to make me believe that getting a good job is the most essential thing in one’s life. I never believe such shit though. However, my story begins after fate send me back to Japan and how I was sent to Mexico, where my best friends live and where I never thought that I would live. So many unexpected things have happened to my life since I began knocking about the world. My story is not a description of my hatred toward Japan; on the contrary, it is the confession of the man, who just wants to express himself in earnest and who simply wants to tell the truth from the depth of his heart. It is a story of the process of a man liberating himself from the place where he does not want to belong, so that he can start living his own life in his own sweet way. This book is for my fellow seekers who believe in life and individualism unconditionally and feel that life gives us full of surprises when one follows his destiny relentlessly. To be sure, life is fun to live!