Motley crews probably shouldn't look so content with life...but these folk are a) retired Japanese b) full of barbequed sea creatures and c) completely wasted on Sam Adams beer.
Our Zushi friends invited Tim and me to a summer barbeque at the marina, partly in honor of his safe return from his seven month tour in Kuwait. A warm day in the sun by the sea with good friends is truly a slice of heaven on earth, especially if they feed you delicious japanese cuisine for three hours straight.
In this petite cultural exchange, both nationalities learned new phrases. During a conversational lull, my gaze wandered to the sun reflecting off the Zushi Bay, the light magically changing the water's surface to hammered silver...so beautifully faceted and dazzling, it momentarily mesmerized me. After I "came to" from my brief revery, I gave a deep sigh, took a swig of my cold green tea, turned to my friend Hiranosan and said, "THIS IS THE LIFE!"
A quizzical look followed. I explained that this English expression is something we say when we are completely comfortable and happy, without a care in the world. (Usually, alcohol and views of the ocean appear in this scenario. But not always.) He nodded enthusiastically, complete understanding lighting up his eyes. "Nancysan!", he exclaimed (Hiranosan exclaims everything), "This is the life of retirement! It is our second spring!"
A Second Spring. What a lovely thought. After the long, hard, hot work of summer comes another chance for refreshment and new growth.
For Japanese people, who generally wake at 6AM, jump on a train at 7AM, spend two hours commuting, 10-12 hours working, 2 hours enterataining clients in the bars after work, and then 2 more hours commuting home, retirement is a chance to live life freely for the first time since childhood. They sail, fish, play golf and tennis, take English lessons and generally enjoy life to the fullest.
I look forward to this carefree existence that hopefully awaits Tim and I in our "golden" years.
Until then, I will enjoy the mini second springs that life awards us along The Path--blessed reunions with my husband after anguishing months apart and joyous get-togethers with all our friends, near and far, who bring us spiritual refreshment, no matter how long it's been since we last enjoyed their company.