Thursday, November 15, 2007


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?


Interested said...


Anonymous said...

Almost anyone can compare their life to others' and feel good or bad. It is the half-full vs half-empty glass. I wish you well during the next few weeks.

Justfly said...

And after Hiroo returned to Japan what did he do?
He didn't continue on the same path, he took another one. It is never too late to change the direction.

Sunny said...

Hope you get something in the mail that will brighten your day. I very well know the feeling you have described here. Hugs and good thoughts from me to you.

lowandslow said...

I think you're feeling what many of us feel as we get a few more candles on the birthday cake. Every year I seem to think more and more about the "what if's" in my life. Looking back can be entertaining at times, but it can also be very depressing. God put eyes in the front of our heads for a we can look forward. Take care, friend.


Anonymous said...

"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."

Me too, scrib. Me too. "Polite society" is such an oxymoron.

'm sorry you're feeling that way! Hope it passes.

Kelly said...

Justfly said it. What did Hiroo do when he returned to Japan?

Change is hard but often staying the same is harder.

John said...

I'm trying to figure out what he did for 30 years and how he kept out of trouble. Seems like a guy at war might be inconvenient for others. Was he camped out the whole time?
I have to get that book. It seems easier to identify with those who spent most of life completely out of the stream of society like Onoda was.

MrScribbler said...

John -- Onoda and two others camped out for years. Each of the others was killed by islanders over the years, and Onoda was alone for the last few months he was on the island.

It's a hell of a book. Onoda is an honest man, and tells his story honestly.