Last night, when sleep would not come, I pulled a book called No Surrender off the shelf and, once again, started reading it. It is the story of one Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who was stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1944, and did not learn that the war was over until 1974, when he finally laid down his rifle and returned to Japan.
After meeting his superior officer from 1944 (who had since become a bookseller) and receiving his orders to go home, he asked himself a simple question: "what was I doing here all these years?"
That is a question I've been asking myself. In a sense, I identify with ex-Lieutenant Onoda. I have spent 20-plus years thinking I was doing what was right, what I was best-equipped to do. Sadly, I am more and more certain that I have deluded myself.
I have had some good times, to be sure, but have no wife, no children, no home. As making ends meet has become more difficult, I have denied myself all those pleasures many take for granted but which I could not afford.
This wasn't done because I was feeling noble. I always expected the Big Turnaround was right around the corner. It never has been.
Now, I'm wishing someone would come along and give me orders to give up the lonely fight and go "home." Wherever "home" is. Onoda gradually re-acquainted himself with modern society; I, on the other hand, would love to find an isolated place to do nothing more than survive without having to deal with a society I neither accept nor understand.
Unlike him, I have a good idea that my war is long since over. Not having his moral fiber and training, I would love nothing more than to lay down my weapon and give up.
I have missed a great deal during my "war," probably irreparably so.
Onoda did not blame anyone for letting him down. Neither will I, though both of us could point fingers. Pride kept him in his war, as pride and stupidity kept me in mine.
I no longer wish to fight.
What was I doing here all these years?
15 hours ago