I’m the king of things I’ve always despised
I’m the gingerbread man who got eaten alive
I’m half-baked! I’m fake!
But see I’ve got hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk
And two hundred bucks
I pass go but, oh! Life’s taken its toll
Have I won Monopoly to forfeit my soul?
I’ve got the company car
I’m the one swinging at two below par
Yeah, I’ve become one with the ones
That I’ve never believed in
But I’ve got the company car
I’ve wanted to write something about Usagi Drop all season, but nothing particularly came to mind, even three episodes in. But wouldn’t you know it? I had two posts’ worth to write on episode four. This one pertains to the main action of this episode, in which Daikichi asks for what amounts to a demotion so that he can better care for Rin.
Daikichi’s sacrifice is admirable, I think almost all of us would agree. We might even go further and say that it’s the right choice. And yet…I don’t think many would do it – either in the career-driven culture in Japan or a not-altogether-unlike culture in the U.S. Dual income households are the norm and other than maternity/paternity leave, most parents don’t make major work adjustments after having a child.
Children become a part of our lives. They may be at the top of our list, but they remain in the same category as a number of other items – career, life goals, relationships, and material goods, possibly among them. There’s push and pull in this category of “important things in my life,” and sometimes the children have to make sacrifices so that careers can advance and so that they and the family can have more of…well, everything. But make no mistake – the children do sacrifice.
The thing is, what we are sacrificing for really isn’t that sweet in the end. For most, our careers give self worth, but they rarely make a major, positive difference in the world. Our material goods provide us pleasure, but these pleasures are temporary and superficial. I was reminded of such in the past week, when I reaped some minor worldly rewards from a new job, which in turn reminded me of “Company Car,” the Switchfoot song I quoted above.
On the other hand, Daikichi’s sacrifice and those by others who give up their ambitions and pleasure-seeking for the sake of children, family, or other objects of more significance find this – it’s worth it. It’s rare to find a person, for instance, who regrets sacrificing career for family. After all, who, at the end of their lives, says, “I wish I had spent less time with family and more time in the office”?
The idea, I think, is similar for Christians. People get this idea that living a Christian life is like stripping away all the fun and living a life of boredom and stuffiness. Those who seek to live like Christ find the opposite – they realize that as they strip themselves off and let Christ take over more and more of their hearts, they’re opening themselves to more fulfilling and significant lives. By decreasing, they ironically increase.
In the end, Daikichi’s sacrifice is no sacrifice at all. The more he loses, the more he’ll gain. We should all be so lucky to gain what he’s gaining, and we should all be so blessed to be a person who really gets it.