A recent op-ed piece about the sorry lot of foreign men "trapped" in Japan reminded me of the following story:
Last summer at the beach, I met a French guy, an architect living and working in Tokyo, who was passing through Fukuoka on his way to Kagoshima. He asked if I minded sitting down and talking with him. Not at all, I said.
You seem to have made it, he said.
He was referring to my family who was with me at the beach that day. I suppose we looked like a happy, carefree family, the four of us playing in the sand.
What’s the secret, he asked.
Time, I replied. I’ve been here for over twenty years and have been through more rough patches than I can count along the way—financial ups and downs, problems at work, frustrations and heartbreak, to name a few.
The Frenchman explained that he had recently been dumped. Happened right out of the blue. One day they were living together, just as happy as a couple could be, and the next day she vanished. Poof!
That happened to me about three times, I told him.
He looked like he was about to start crying.
Let me buy you a beer, I said, getting up.
When I returned with the beer, I had the following advice: one, you’re lucky you found a sympathetic ear today because I’ve been there myself. You probably won’t be so lucky next time, so do what you’ve already told yourself to do—he had scrawled SHUT UP! on the inside of his forearms. Two, start fucking. Put some bodies between you and the girl and, trust me, you’ll feel better. Three, focus on your career, pour yourself into you work. And, four, be patient because nothing heals like time.
Cheers, we said, clinking our beer bottles together.