The Night Watchers and the Luminous Place 夜守りとキラキラしているところ


Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

A few days ago, my mom gave me a call. She said there was no particular reason for the call. "I just wanted to say hi," she said. It was good timing, so we spoke for about half an hour.

We talked about various subjects, and at one point, somehow, we stumbled upon a topic, "Talking to strangers." We agreed that neither of us is afraid of talking to strangers, although I am an introvert and love spending time alone.

From my parents, especially my mother, I learned to trust in people's goodness, regardless of their appearance or social status. 

When I was about four years old, I remember seeing a man with a noticeable scar on his face at the supermarket where my mom and I regularly shopped. We didn’t see him every time, but we saw him sometimes. He was probably in his 50s or 60s at that time, and he was always by himself. He would say hi, and we said hi back to him. I remember my mom carrying on casual conversations with him. I did not see other people talking to him. Whenever he said hi to us, my mom did not look bothered or scared. Sometimes, he tried to buy me ice cream, and my mom often politely turned down the offer, but occasionally, I got ice cream, and I remember thanking him and eating it in front of the store before it melted. I remember seeing his eyes were squinting and he looked happy seeing me eat the ice cream. 

In high school, I had eating an disorder and crowd phobia, and I barely managed to go to school. But I was able to go to the Suga Jazz Dance Studio to take dance classes every night. When I danced, I could breathe deeply.

My family lived in an apartment then, located in the central part of the city. This was because my father, an engineer, needed to get to the office immediately during an emergency. Since it was in the middle of a town, it happened to be in a red-light district (but a safe area). 

I used to ride my bicycle to the dance studio. A few hundred yards from my house stood one of the high-end-looking businesses on the edge of the red-light district. I liked that this business didn’t have any obnoxious flickering neon signs. There was always a man in a suit standing in front of the closed door to greet their guests. There were two or three men, and they took turns standing outside. 

I knew what the shop was for, but I didn’t want to ignore the doorman's presence. I gave them a quick bow whenever I passed by, and they lifted their chins toward me or raised their hands as if to say, "Hi." Eventually, our nightly recognition turned into verbal greetings, like "Good evening" (on the way to a class) and them responding, "Be careful (meaning - of the traffic)." When I came home, I said, "Good night," and they replied, "Good night."

I never stopped to talk to them, but we exchanged the pleasantries that my bicycle speed allowed for. They eventually knew I was going to a dance class and practicing for Yosakoi, an annual dance festival of my hometown in which the whole town dances. Sometimes, their greetings had variations: "Good luck tomorrow!” for the night before the festival or "Oh good, you're back safely" when I came home later than usual, and so on. 

We didn’t know each other's names; none of us tried to find out. I didn’t know how they ended up doing that job, or why they would take the time to greet me. 

But in the lonely world of torturing myself with food and the scale, they became my night watchers and provided a ray of moonlight into my dark, cold heart as if to say, "We see you."

One evening, my mom and I happened to go out together on bicycles. When we passed in front of the business, we both greeted the doorman. He looked at us and laughed as if to say, "Ah, you two are related! Makes sense!" 

My mom and I also looked at each other and said, "You've been greeting them, too?" Then we laughed. At the same time, I was impressed by my mom once again for being their regular greeter.

Also, no one was standing there during the daytime, so sometimes, I wondered if they really existed. I was happy to know that my mom knew of these souls that appeared nightly, too.

These are only two examples, but I have many more episodes of my mother making friends with strangers, including "outsiders" with whom other people did not seem to want to be associated. 

From my mother, I learned to look into the "luminous place" flowing deeply within each of us and to meet people in that place. 

Also from my mother, I learned that the world can be a scary place sometimes, but it's worth believing in and showing up.

You can listen to this article's podcast episode at the following link. The episode number is #5.
















これはほんの二つのエピソードだけど、 他の方が見て見ぬ振りするような方々を含め、知らない人たちと、母が打ち解けていく様子を私は多々見て育ってきた。




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