Episode eleven of Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) begins with a very heavy hand, as in the opening few minutes we finally see why Kou has become the way he has. Not only do we now see the pain he went through with his mother’s illness (from lung cancer, it turns out) and death, but we also see why Kou pushes back so hard against academic studies. When his mother was well, she would ask Kou to simply spend time with her watching television, but Kou would refuse, saying he needed to focus on studies in order to eventually make good money, apparently through which he could support his single mother. Kou was single-minded in his determination. Studies, at that point of his life, superseded everything, even relationships with family.
And being driven isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A close family member of mine, a really smart guy, had planned out his young life. He was going to return to school, open a business, and make a lot of money. He had the energy and will and smarts to do it all. But then, tragedy hit. My family member’s best friend was murdered, and suddenly, all those seemingly worthy goals meant so little. Since that time, he’s focused much more on the “little things” in life, more absorbed by family than by riches.
Kou’s story is similar, though his motivation is perhaps more pure. He doesn’t want to make money for himself – he wants to support his mom. It seems a worthy goal. But the pain that life sometimes brings gets in the way, and the time that Kou took for granted went away in the blink of an eye (six months). As Kou remembers his mom’s pleading to spend time with her, the thoughts that run through his mind are transparent – I wish I would have spent more time with her and less time hitting the books.
Truth told, we don’t know how much time we have in the world. But one thing I think is true is that no matter how much time we have, it’s never enough. Time is really so short, and unfortunately it’s usually only through tragedies that we evaluate how precious life really is.
While planning is all good and well – and often it’s absolutely vital – we can’t let our anxieties and pride about our plans get in the way of the most important things. For Christians, the story of Mary and Martha may comes to mind:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
– Luke 10:38-42
Christ made it clear, here, that spending time with him was more important than doing preparations and being caught up in doing what was necessary. Martha knew what was most important, and she left everything else behind – her duties, her family – to do it. If we aren’t careful, we’ll get caught up in worries, anxiety, pride, and the world, and become like Mary or like Kou, focused on our own plans, goals, and desires.
The trick, of course, is to be more like Mary, who really gets it. And God-willing, it doesn’t take a tragedy for us to realign our lives.