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?”

The Act of Opening My Favorite Books

Whenever the phobia assaults my heart, I find refuge in my favorite authors who give me direction and hope. In addition, they make me understand that I am not alone in having such sufferings in my own country, but they had been through the same experiences and overcame them! When unbearable loneliness invades into my heart, I always read Hamsun, Miller, and Hesse. They have become my only friends in Japan, and their books have become my bibles. They speak to my heart, give me strength to keep on my head up, and make me feel that I am not alone. “You have no time being maudlin, mister! You are obliged to read books to improve yourself every single hour that you are available,” I reproach myself. “Maybe, this time I’ll find a perfect solution in books,” I nod and say aloud, “This is it!” while snapping my fingers. The idea of finding the perfect solution in books cheers my spirit up, and I decide to take a train to go home as quickly as possible, as though my every problem would solve itself just by the act of opening my favorite books.

I Totally Do Not Know What I Am Going to Do

I am thinking to myself that what a perfect time I spent there, and how I felt so contented in Acapulco by being surrounded with my friends while strolling around the park wistfully. How courageous I was and how strong my faith in life was three years ago. Now I am devoid of any enthusiasm in life and cannot see how I can escape from my helpless tribulations. Now I am in exactly the same desperate situation as Jorgito is in. I know that I should quit my job, so that I can be dedicated to my writing and can spend all my time on it; nevertheless, I am now like Jorgito. I am so worried about stupid money because, without money, I cannot go back to Vancouver and cannot find a place to stay there. Why do I just quit my job and buy a flight ticket for Vancouver? It seems so easy to me, the idea itself, but I am afraid of taking a step, because I know if I do that, in two months, I will be destitute. I want to quit my job, but my circumstances cannot allow it, which has completely become my dilemma. And I have been suffering from it unbearably.

I love listening to the music of soughing trees, which always give me a mysterious feeling and always makes me happy while I am strolling around a park. I also love walking on the streets aimlessly, immersed in my own thoughts. But alas, in Japan even the sound of soughing trees and walking on the streets make me dispirited. I totally do not know what I am going to do; I am constantly feeling consternation about my future and myself.

It Is the Meaning of Life

He gulped a glass of whisky and pointed out a house down there with his pensive thought, “Look down there, can you see those houses, Shogo?”

“Yes, I can see them.”

“Shogo, here in Mexico we have a bunch of poor people. Our economy is very bad because of the fucking Mexican government. You know, Japan is a very rich country, and Japanese might have money, but they don’t have any life, and they don’t know how to enjoy their lives. I think Japanese are very sad people because they just work, work, work every day. See those people down there, even though their houses are almost decrepit, and they don’t have any money, they have mighty sunshine; they enjoy their lives so much, and the mighty sunshine gives them courage each day. We Mexicans know how to enjoy life with only sunshine!”

I was completely touched with this simple truth and exclaimed, “Jorgito, you are utterly right about it. Japanese are miserable creatures unfortunately who only know how to go to work on time every day. I am ashamed of my fellow countrymen. They should learn how to enjoy life more than how to make money; however, it’s hopeless for me to talk about the simple truth to them, shit! You are lucky for being a Mexican; not being Japanese, ha-ha-ha.”

He replied with tears of laughter in his eyes, “Shogo, you really hate Japan. I thoroughly understand you, so don’t worry. However, it’s so funny to see one genuinely despise his own country from the bottom of the heart, and I’ve never seen one expressing his hatred toward his own country so violently in my life. I am sorry, I’m laughing at you so much, but I can’t help it.”

He wiped his tears with his back of left hand and continued, “Here we are just sitting with a beautiful view and aren’t being worried about anything. We’re just enjoying our talks and feeling so relaxed and peaceful. It is the meaning of life, Shogo!”

At this moment, Gabriel passed by and gave a loud fart right beside us without any embarrassment, as if it were Mexican’s privilege to fart publicly to their heart’s content.

“Fucking Gabriel! He certainly has no shame, that idiot, but Jorgito, it’s the meaning of life, too!”

“Ha-ha-ha! Stupid Gabriel! It is the meaning of life, too, of course, Shogo!”