Table Speech

Cherish a Treasure of Your Life in Your Mind

May 22, 2013

Ms. Fujiko Yamamoto

 I wondered what I should say to you all, given your breadth of experience and knowledge. Today, let me share with you my attitude toward life and words which I cherish in my daily life. I believe in “power of words” and make it a habit to jot down heart-touching phrases and stories that I come across in books, newspapers and conversations with people around me.
 I started to jot down impressive phrases when I encountered a well-known poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman:
   Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind
   Nobody grows old merely by a number of years.
   We grow old by deserting our ideals.

 I sometimes rephrase the wording as “we grow old by deserting our dreams, hopes, curiosity, or ambitions” to remind myself to stay young and fresh at heart no matter how old I get. I wrote down this poem on a little piece of paper and always keep it in my purse.

 When my son got married 18 years ago, I gave him a small present in the morning of his wedding day, hoping it will be a source of peace in his new life. It was a notebook which I entitled an “Accounts of every now and then” that recounted many impressive and insightful words that I found useful to live by. If I may give a few lines from my notebook, the renowned author Hiroyuki Itsuki wrote in his “Hints to Live By”:
   Try to feel joy in your life
   Try to make others feel joy in their life
   Try also to feel joy in yourself
   You will come to accept and appreciate all
   If you can feel joy, you will live through the hard times
   Try to feel joy at least once a day, even in rainy days…
   Try not to go after only big joys, but try to appreciate little joys in your everyday life.
 I want to make myself more sensitive and receptive to little joys and try to appreciate and be content with small achievements I make day by day.

 I encountered an attractive term “aesthetic scrutiny” in my talk with Mr. Jiro Ushio, CEO of Ushio Group. He told me “not to pick flaws, but to look carefully at the goodness and beauty in others, because we are all endowed with something good. Such attitude makes the world more pleasant and harmonious.” His words brightened up my day and proved how good words could be a heartfelt treasure.

 My husband and I have been big fans of the column, “morning poetry”, in Sankei Newspaper, where readers contribute their poems. I have clipped many heart-warming words and sentences from this column that includes the following poem “Words” by a 63-year-old woman in Hiroshima:
   When my heart aches from someone’s words
   I always recall
   The word of wisdom I found at a temple gate
   Those who bring out words make them water under the bridge
   Those who receive words engrave them on a stone

 The poem tells us how powerful words can become in relationships with others. You can hurt somebody by your words without knowing it, but those who are hurt by your words will never forget it.

 I was deeply impressed by another poem entitled “Bringing up a child” written by a 72-year-old man:
   In babyhood, don’t take your skin off
   In infancy, don’t take your hand off
   In childhood, don’t take your eyes off
   In boyhood, don’t take your mind off
   This is what childcare is all about
   This is where childcare starts from
   By following such simple rules
   You will bring up a good child

 I think this poem is based on a real-life experience of being a father and expresses his sincere message. I think we grow up as a person together with our children as we bring them up. I hope the young parents of today will cherish the message behind this poem and enjoy their precious period in life.

 Let me share a few lines from my personal gift I have kept over many years. Each year, my husband Takeharu Yamamoto who was a composer had sent me a birthday card with memorable phrases. He passed away two years ago, but I keep all his birthday cards as my most precious treasures. About 15 years ago, my husband sent me the “Poem of an hourglass,” with some quotations from the poem “This autumn” that appeared in the column of “morning poetry” and impressed him greatly. I always carry around this poem, together with the poem “Youth” that I quoted earlier:
   There was an hourglass containing one ton of sand
   that ticked down the time of one year.
   As you watch the sands fall silently
   and pile up in an enormous container,
   you will come to realize time does not pass by,
   but time does accumulate in your body and your soul.
   Time does not pass by
   Time accumulates in your body and your soul.

 I used to think time would pass by. Now I have realized that because time certainly passes by, we must make optimum use of every single moment to accumulate quality time in ourselves and to enrich our soul and life as a whole. My husband and I have been life-long partners both publicly and privately. He composed music for all my TV dramas and plays on stage. I cherish our 49 years of happy time together; his personality and his attitude toward life are treasures of my life, my moral support and my source of gratitude and respect.

 I am sure your hearts are also filled with many treasures. Let me close my speech by wishing you all every happiness and success that will further enrich you life.