My mother and I don’t have much contact with each other. But after Japan’s earthquake, I’ve heard from my mother sometimes, which is quite unusual. A couple of months ago, she sent me a postcard that said she was worried about me for frequent aftershocks. The other day, her thank-you card for my Mother’s Day gift was forwarded to my new place although she had completely ignored my gift the year before.
She doesn’t know my new address because I haven’t told her that I moved. Every single action I take makes her resent for some reason, and I conceal things around myself from her as much as possible. On that forwarded postcard, she wrote that she’s been worried about me this time for radiation from the crippled nuclear power plant. Each time, I noticed her firm intention not to use a specific sentence. It’s ‘Why don’t you come home to stay with us for a while?’ When people leave the Tokyo metropolitan area for the safer western part of Japan, where she lives, it’s so unnatural that she hasn’t suggested it.
Of course, as a mother who has told me not to come home ever again, I understand that is the last suggestion she would make for me. I can even read between the lines, that she is overflowing with joy, because she believes I’ve suffered the earthquake’s aftermath as a punishment I’ve opposed everything she told me to do. Possibly, I’m twisted to think this way and she may be really worried about me.
But ever since I left home, I’ve lived easily and cheerfully and that has been intolerant to her. The fact I’ve already left and moved for a safe area would infuriate her if she knew. It’s human nature to gloat over someone’s misfortune and begrudge someone’s happiness, I guess…
Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks, 43 available distributors in total
I made up my mind to become a professional musician when I was eighteen living in Japan. I had imagined that the hardest thing to be one was to keep up better works by strengthening talent, which proved wrong. The hardest thing is money. Scraping up funds for activities as a musician without losing time and energy for music is most difficult. It’s equally the case for either an artist who has made a smash hit or the one who has been unsuccessful like me. And it has remained to be the case today after decades passed.
At the very beginning of my music career, I regularly rehearsed in a studio as a member of the band that strongly intended to become professional. It was the first serious band I had joined. I somehow managed to play well enough compared to other skillful members and didn’t get fired at the first session as I had feared. The band was based in Osaka that is a 45-minute ride by train from Kyoto where I lived. The studios the band used were all in Osaka, which meant I needed to pay the studio rental fee and the train fare each time. I was a college student back then, but barely went to class. Instead, I worked at the restaurant as a cashier and spent everything on the band. My time was dedicated to music and I came home just to sleep.
The studio was equipped with a synthesizer but I didn’t have my own although I constantly appealed my passion to become professional. It had gradually seemed odd that I used a rental synthesizer in every session while I tried to motivate other members to be professional as soon as possible. A thought that other members questioned my seriousness began to cross my mind as I continued to play with temporary sounds. Since we played our original songs, original sounds were necessary. On top of that, when I practiced back at home, I used the piano for a synthesizer that was quite ineffective as practice. I finally decided to get my own synthesizer. I chose the latest model at that time called Yamaha DX7 that was featured in almost all the pop songs and albums in the music business of 80s. It cost about 2500 dollars.
Before I joined the band, I had saved money out of my years’ allowances and was going to use that money to study English in England. The amount of my savings was about the same as the price of a DX7. I had put it in time deposit at the credit union bank for higher interest and for my friend just a few months before. That friend of mine had worked at the bank by giving up going to college because she needed to support her handicapped mother and two younger siblings when her father suddenly abandoned them. I wanted to help her in some way and set a time deposit through her with hope that it might raise her performance evaluation at the bank. Sadly, my rare good deed couldn’t last any longer. I went to the bank, apologized her a million times, and cancelled a time deposit. While she kept telling me with a smile “Don’t worry, don’t bother,” I was bathed in guilt, and yet I withdrew my savings and went on to get a DX7. I chose a DX7 over staying in England and being her friend.
After all, it was just the beginning of the long way that I have walked on until today. Since I decided to become a professional musician, I had lost my friends and my family not to mention a college degree as a dropout. What I gained instead are thousands of sleepless nights for worry about money. Even while I stay awake in the night yet again, I still believe that the happiest thing for a human is to fulfill one’s calling.