I always live in the future, 50 years from now. And I frequently travel
back, not to now, but to 50 years ago. Then, and only then, will I understand what
is happening to me today and prepare me for what will happen tomorrow.
The depth of a culture can be gauged by the way it treats two very important
generations: the Young and the Old. The elderly are important because they are
responsible for the good we have today and can help us comprehend the bad that
is happening today. The Young are important because they are the future and they
will be creating what will become tomorrow.
It was in Japan that I saw this being played out time again. A little girl
talking animatedly to her attentive mother, both oblivious to their surroundings.
Grandfather and grandson contemplating a bird chirping on a tree. Someone
offering a seat for an old lady. An old man being helped across a street by a
stranger. A mother saying goodbye to her child at the station. Father and little son
off to a baseball match. On the surface these oft repeated events may not seem
significant, and you never know the undercurrents that could be flowing beneath
such scenes taken in isolation, but they do reflect a deep sense of love, respect and
affection that the Japanese shower on their Young and Old. Somehow this touches
me deeply. Not the convenience of the subways, not the neon lights and
skyscrapers, not the security and comforts, not the hightech gizmos, not vending
machines. But this intangible romance with the Young and the Old, the Future and
the Past. Of wishes and hopes, and of gratitude and indebtedness.
This will be something I will always cherish of Japan.
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