The author Ruth Ozeki shows how we should appreciate our life by explaining what “time being” is through the Naoko Yasutani’s diary. In addition, she mentions that Kotodama, which has a spiritual power, is one of the most important qualities of “time being.”
Nao used to live in Sunnyvale where she has a lot of pleasant memories, but when her father got fired, she moved to Tokyo, which is a terrible place for her, because she has been bullied by all of her classmates including the teacher and all of her friends of U.S. has left from her. Meanwhile, her father couldn’t find any jobs. As a result, he committed suicide twice. Although Nao seriously needed help, yet her mother seems indifferent and couldn’t face her problems because she made strenuous efforts to get a job. Nao’s life changed to miserable. She struggled to survive in Japan without take counsel with parents or teachers. One day, during her summer vacation, she had a chance to visit her great-grandmother Jiko who is a nun. So she taught her why we should appreciate for everything and how to live is important by showing Buddhist scriptures. Besides, Nao read the Haruki Yasutani #1’s letter who is a kamikaze pilot. These things changed her mind and gave her the flicker of hope. One day, she thought to kill her-self but through the death of Old Jiko, She changed her mind and started to appreciate the importance of life.
According to the novel, one of the most important qualities of “time being” is Kotodama. She says
in Japan, some words have kotodama, which are spirits that live inside a word and give it a special power (56).
For example, if you say something positive words like gratitude, a good thing will happen to you. However, if you say something negative words like dislike, a tragedy will happen to you. In other words, everything has a spirit or it is all about our mind. Jiko says
everything has a spirit, even if it is old and useless, and we must console and honor the things that have served us well (Ozeki 205).
In addition she says
everything happens because of your karma, which is a kind of subtle energy that you cause by the stuff you do or say or even just think (52).
I think that it means the word you say will reflects and come back to yourself. For example, if I hate one of my friend, the friend will also hate me. Conversely, if I like someone, the person will like me too.
I heard how Kotodama affect to divorce rate from a scientist. They says that if a couple has more argument or negative conversation, they tend to divorce with higher rate than someone who have more positive conversations. Furthermore, I have a similar experience of that. When I was working for a company, I always show my dissatisfaction with my horrible company and coworker. I hate the company. But after my vacation, I change my attitude and frequently showed my feelings of gratitude to my coworker and company. Then everything has changed. I feel better with my job, which I never felt before.
Recently I came to U.S. to study in college. My parents help me financially. My father text me a lot like “Am I studying hard?” “Why don’t I come back to Japan to work?” “I have to save money.” Most of his text makes me annoyed. But when I started to text him adding end of the message “thank you” every time, I feel more gratitude for him supporting me financially. After all, he texts me more gently like “Am I eating health food?” “Do I sleep well?” It is a kind of kotodama.
Do you understand what “kotodama” and “time being” are? Are you still there? I think “time being” has a lot of meaning. It could be “thinking of someone,” or “gratitude,” or “now”. In contrast, suicide is the opposite of “time being”
In conclusion, as Nao and her father were given a great kotodama “生” by Jiko at the end of novel, which means “To live” “For now” “For the time being” oppositely, when she was dying. Jiko and the kotodama “生” changed their mind a lot. So it is the power of kotodama.