Our Readers' Opinions
September 29, 2006

Living is Unhealthy

EDITOR: I am not pessimist like Woody Allen.

Unlike him, I know what the taste of having hope is like.

However, everybody often comes up to me and tells me that my motto “Living is Unhealthy” sounds like the end of the world.

Well, I disagree and would like to explain why-it has a lot to do with the relationship between joy and challenges in our lifetime.{{more}}

I am a Japanese volunteer assigned here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

I suppose in a lot of the ways that I think and act directly derive from where and how I was raised.

To think about how far my fellow Japanese volunteers and I traveled (Japan time is nearly 13 hours ahead of SVG’s) still scares me a little.

What an incredible challenge we have been going through!

Coming from different cultures to be assimilated, and struggling with the enormous language barrier, what we volunteers intend to accomplish might be a totally ridiculous attempt.

But I would say that Japanese volunteers, including me, somehow acknowledge how wonderful it is to go for a challenge, full of power.

I would like to share my story as a sort of example.

My master, sensei Yukihiro Goto, who taught me the beauty of theater work and collaboration, always teaches his American students his motto “Living is Unhealthy”.

Again, he is not a pessimist at all.

He is a fantastic innovator and successor who is invited to teach acting to young American college students at San Francisco State University even though he was born and raised in Japan.

Unfortunately, I really did not understand what his motto really meant back then because his saying sounded like nothing significant at the time but rather very depressing.

Not only Japanese, but also Germans talk about something quite similar.

There was a German lady who helped me out during my travel last year.

Most of my money was stolen at Berlin and thinking about being broke on the street terrified me to death. She listened to my story until I calmed down, kindly took me to a local café and treated me with great espresso and cigarette. When I mentioned to her about me not smoking for a long time because of living in California (smoking is just no-no there) so long, she said to me, “Germans just know how to enjoy life”.

At that moment, everything gradually came together in my mind.

“Living is Unhealthy” – that is why it’s better to dive into a big challenge although we might have to take risks.

Such an attitude surely brings us more joyful and memorable experiences in our lifetime.

I now have a great deal of admiration for the way sensei Yukihiro Goto taught me about life – life is one time only, no matter what we do.

If we all are meant to do something, what is the point of just chilling, waiting around, and doing nothing?

Such compromise and laziness would never lead us to the ultimate satisfaction.

Therefore, in my opinion, “Living is Unhealthy” rather sounds optimistic and quite ambitious now.

Of course, sometimes, my fellow volunteers and I get discouraged and depressed even though we are determined to go through this journey in SVG because we get extra lonely by being so far away from our country and people.

Loneliness really sucks up huge amounts of energy from our spirits.

Please, when you see us on the streets, say hi or “yea-man” to us, because your voices and smiles definitely cheer us up.

Also, I hope that you will join our journey and challenge together to enjoy going through the extraordinary life.

Yuichiro “Tommy” Tomita