Plum blossom viewing

I went for a stroll around the castle park this morning. It was a little cold, but there was warmth in the sun’s rays. Spring is almost here. There are plum blossom trees scattered around the park. I love the plum blossom. It features in my novel In the Shadows of Mountains. The main character has a plum tree in her garden. She prefers it to the more celebrated cherry blossom, calling the latter a braggart, and a show off, demanding to be seen. The plum blossom, however, just blooms silently and in stillness. And it smells divine.

Pessoa’s “Notes for a rule of life”

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Being self-employed, I do most things in my business myself. I am terrible with numbers, but today, I battled through and completed my tax return. The paperwork is all in Japanese, but that is not the problem – the numbers are the problem. I eventually finished it, but it took me the best part of the day. Tired, I absent-mindedly opened Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet and landed on the following passage. It made me smile! On today of all days!

“To need to dominate others is to need others. The commander is dependent.

Enlarge your personality without including anything from the outside – asking nothing from others and imposing nothing on others, but being others when you need them.

Reduce your necessities to a minimum, so as not to depend on anyone for anything.

It’s true that such a life is impossible in the absolute. But it’s not impossible relatively.

Let’s consider a man who owns and runs an office. He should be able to do without his employees; he should be able to type, to balance the books, to sweep the office. He should depend on others because it saves him time, not because he’s incompetent. Let him tell the office boy to put a letter in the post because he doesn’t want to lose time going to the post office, not because he doesn’t know where the post office is. Let him tell a clerk to take care of a certain matter because he doesn’t want to waste time on it, not because he doesn’t know how to take care of it.”

No TV

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I don’t have a TV. I haven’t had one since the country changed its broadcasting system about 10 years ago. I don’t miss it. I never think “Oh I wish I had a TV”. I have so much more to do with my time than watch TV. Read, write, study languages…. how would I fit TV into my life?

A friend came round for the first time a few days ago. The first thing he asked was “Where’s your TV?”

“Haven’t got one,” I replied.

He looked at me like I was some kind of freak. “But….but….how do you get your news? What do you do when the house is quiet?” he asked.

“I have the Internet. I listen to music if I feel like it,” I said.

Apparently, he has the TV on all the time, droning away in the background. I would find that really annoying and stressful. I don’t spend my days in silence, like some kind of convent nun, cloistered away, oblivious to what is happening in the world. I listen to music when I’m not studying or working. I read online newspapers. I use social media. I have a good grasp of current affairs. I just don’t need a TV in my life.

In Japan, everyone with a TV is supposed to pay the NHK license fee. The company NHK uses to collect the money is quite persistent. “The NHK guys” (and it is always guys) visit at all hours of the day and night, demanding that you pay. They don’t believe you when you say you don’t have a TV, and say that even if you really don’t have one, you still have a smartphone, right? And that can pick up TV signals right? So you have to pay.

I’ve never checked to see if my phone can pick up TV signals. I don’t think it can. There’s no TV icon on the screen or anything. I sent the last NHK guy away, telling him I didn’t have a TV. He was back a week later, asking me if I had bought a TV yet. He doesn’t believe me. I guess he’ll be back in a few weeks or so. Is it really so unusual to not have a TV in this day and age?