I love Japan. I love living here. I particularly love the fact that I wasn't raised here, as it allowed me to flourish and develop into the well-rounded, kind of balanced individual that all connected with me love.
My day to day life, however, puts me in touch with the result of a culture that demands conformity to the mould. There is what is expected. If you follow that, you end up in a good job. You work every hour that God gave you, and retire at 65, only to be struck down by dementia in your early 70s. Why? I really think it is because you have no memories in your head to keep the brain going. All you have is a lifetime of work, and memories of that cannot sustain mental cognition. Call me mad, but that's my take.
What happens if you don't follow what is expected of you?
Maybe you end up as a 40-year-old woman, working hard, but getting a pittance while listening to your Prime Minister bang on about how they are going to raise wages, etc, etc. Trying to work out how you worked so hard when you were young, but ended up on the wrong end of the stick somehow. Awful stuff.
I'd take the madness option any day of the week. I see it most days of the week here. Three cases in point.
The banging on the train windows guy
I get the same train into town every day. Most days my ride is pretty ordinary. Monotonous even. I play on my phone and raise my head to see everyone else doing the same. But sometimes, I get jolted out of my boredom by the window banging guy.
This guy is a young fella. In his early 20s, I suspect. And he is a train conductor. In his mind anyhow.
As the train pulls out of the station, he is pointing in every direction as the train drivers do. He then runs his index finger around the perimeter of the window of the door, then gives it a bloody good smack for effect. Everyone in the carriage who aren't wearing headphones gives a start. This bugger then runs up and down the carriage banging on various windows.
For the novice, his antics are unsettling. For the veteran, amusing.
They talking to himself guy at the station
There is a station two stops from my regular station. I usually just pass through it on the train. Tomorrow, however, as circumstances have it, I will park in the supermarket carpark adjacent to the station. I need to drive, and park for a long time, then drive. They have a flat rate of 500 yen, so it is convenient.
So tomorrow will have me passing through the station. As I pass through the said station, I will see the same guy sitting in the same place, doing the same thing. And that thing is talking to himself, in an animated fashion. He just sits there, gesticulating and talking.
Not a care in the world.
The Blues Brothers guy
This guy won't get much of a mention, as I have only just noticed him. As I alight from my train at the main station and walk through the underground walkway on my way to work, I have noticed this guy leaning on the wall at the same place, wearing the same thing every time.The fact that he also is in earnest conversation with himself piques my interest.
He is always in black from head to toe, and wears dark sunglasses. Hence my Blues Brothers reference.
So, you've got these guys. Living in a society that is very unforgiving of differences. And they give zero. They just carry on in their own little worlds. Do you feel pity? Or do you in fact feel just ,a little jealous. Here we all are, striving to become what the world expects us to become. And here they are, happy with their lot. Only they know what their lot is, but that's cool, because it only matters to them.
I see the miserable people on a miserable treadmill, day after day. Pleasing the man.
I see these three guys, in blissful ignorance of all the shit that we put ourselves through.
Who is crazy? Hmmm. It begs the question.