When I was teaching in Nagoya, Japan from ‘89 to ’92, one of the most memorable teachers I encountered was Takashi Hayashimoto. He was in his 60’s, just about to retire, and fearlessly individual in a country that discouraged autonomy. He was a controversial figure in the teachers’ room because although he was mild-mannered, he refused to stand up and sing Kimigayo the Japanese national anthem because, to him, it symbolized Japan’s militarism in World War II. To illustrate the significance of his political stand (or refusal to stand), consider that the Japanese word chigao means both different and wrong. As if being different is wrong.
Hayashimoto Sensei shared another of his opinions with me. He told me on more than one occasion that time is more important than money. He explained remorsefully that we spend our lives working to make money, but that regardless of the amount of wealth we amass, we can never buy more time. I’ve never forgotten this wise teacher’s lesson. For the last few years, I’ve felt more than ever that time is fleeting. I kept dreaming of career goals, personal projects, hobbies, and experiences that I wanted to accomplish when I had the time…but I just never seemed to have the time.
Fast forward to today. I’ve been off work since October 1. Today is November 1. One month off and what have I accomplished?
The lion’s share of my time this last month has been spent with my dad. Yesterday, he and I spent about 3 hours re-arranging our living room while Ivan was at work. I am very much like my dad and we both relished the task of rearranging the art, pictures and furniture. It looks spectacular! We’ve watched the World Series, shopped, taken care of all of his banking and ID renewals, looked for his new home and arranged for a mortgage etc. At 74, he is very appreciative of our help. He’s been a widower twice now and he’s had a very tough time of it. It’s the least we can do. He’s stayed with us for 3 months now but even Ivan admits that he’s the best house guest imaginable. He moves into his new home in Wasaga Beach November 16 and I’ll miss him.
What else?? I threw a surprise birthday party for Ivan, made Crabapple Jelly from scratch, attended a Toastmasters meeting, read and blogged. I also spent quite a few hours on an important customer’s training program, ensuring the work order was complete and that they were all set before I relinquished my role as their account manager. It’s important to me that all goes well for them.
Note: I recently found a letter from Hayashimoto Sensei. Verbatim, he wrote:
“Time is money,” it’s said. But I think, “Time is more than money,” or “Time (life) is the most valuable of all.”