The world can be a scary place sometimes, but it's worth believing in and showing up この世界は時には怖いところだけれど、それでもやっぱり美しくて、それを信じて参加するに値するところ


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 a half-hour. 

She and I can talk for hours without any problem. We always have a lot to share, and even if we do not have much to say, we can find something to talk about with any given object that happens to be in front of us. And we are comfortable with silence, too. 

She easily laughs, and her laughter is contagious. 

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 did not 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 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 once in a while, 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 narrowly arching and looking happy, seeing me eating the ice cream. 

In high school, I had eating disorders 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. It 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 the neighborhood of the red-light district (but a safe area). 

I used to go to the dance studio by riding a bicycle. A few hundred yards away from my house stood one of the high-end-looking businesses on the edge of the red-light district. I liked that this business did not have any obnoxious light 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 did not 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 lifted their hands as if to say, "Hi." Eventually, our nightly recognition turned into verbal greetings, like "Good evening" (when I left for a class) and them responding, "Be careful (of traffic)." When I came home, I said, "Good night," and they replied, "Good night." 

I never stopped to talk to them, but we exchanged minimum information that my bicycle speed allowed. They eventually knew I was going to a dance class and seasonally practicing for Yosakoi (an annual dance festival of my hometown in which the whole town dances). 

Sometimes, their greetings had variations: "Good luck tomorrow! (the night before the festival) or "Oh good, you're home safe" (when I came home later than usual), etc. 

We did not know each other's names; none of us tried to find out. I did not know why they ended up doing that job or why they would greet me. 

But in the lonely world of torturing myself with food and 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 the 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. I was impressed by my mom once again for being their regular greeters. 

Also, no one was standing there during the daytime, so sometimes, I wondered if they existed. I was happy to know that my mom knew of these nightly appearing souls, 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 deep within each of us and meet people in that place. 

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


数日前母が電話をくれた。 特に用事はないのだけどと言って。 タイミングが良かったので、そのまま30分ほど話した。 

母と私は何時間でも話そうと思えば話せる。 話題は尽きない。尽きたとしても、たまたま目の前にある物を題材にでもしてまた数時間話せる。でも話していないと一緒にいられないというわけでもない。(ちゃんと二人で静かにしていることもできます。) 















私たちも 「お母さんも挨拶してたん!?」 「あかりもしてたん!?」 と二人で笑った。お兄さんたちに挨拶をしていた母のことを誇らしく思った。 


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た知らない人たちと、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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