A Journey without Leaving Day 2: Ponyo and the 200-Meter Difference

Such serene scene can be misleading

I had another extraordinary start today. I’m not really sure what time I woke up this morning, but I’m sure it’s quite early than my usual waking time. My mother invited me to take a walk with her along the beach across the street, a good five minutes from our house.

While walking toward the sea, a man greeted us with a cheerful good morning. I don’t really know who he is, but we returned the greeting all the same. I asked my mother if she knows him and she told me maybe he’s someone around the area. I guess this is how it works here although I can’t help but be wary.

I forgot to mention that the man was walking very early in the morning without a shirt on, showing a protruding beer belly that looked as if it would explode once you prick it with a needle.

As he walked past us, he reminded me of Ponyo, a Hayao Miyazaki film about a fish that became a girl. No, he didn’t look like a fish, but he looked like Ponyo not fully transformed as a human — round body with small legs and hands.

By the time I finished my observation, we arrived at the beach and my morning can’t get more interesting or sadder than what I saw. As I stare at the long stretch of shoreline, I can see garbage in all various shapes and sizes strewn all over in juxtaposition with the fishing boat sitting serenely on the beach.

I have been in this part before so it’s not supposed to surprise me, but this morning is worse. There was more garbage than usual because of the low tide.

I often wonder whether the people living along this shoreline can still see how ugly it looks, or even care about the results of what they’re doing. After all, they play there, they swim there, and they even fish there.

I wonder if they throw all their garbage there because there was no law against it. But do we really need a law to regulate every action we have?

As we kept walking, I saw a part of the shoreline that looked starkly different than the rest — it was clean and garbage free. There was no fence around it but that 200-meter stretch was spick and span.

We soon found out that the owner was an old lady, who hires someone to clean her part of the shoreline every day. She has to do that, she said, in order to attract people. Her place was far from first class but it was clean and the basic amenities are there.

After chatting with her, I thought if the other people who live along that stretch of shoreline would have the same mindset, the place can be very attractive. They can even generate more business there aside from fishing. However, why is it that only the old lady thought about it? Moreover, they should’ve noticed what she was doing and drew inspiration from it, but it seemed like there was an invisible barrier between and they could not see it.

We could learn a lot from others and their lives might give us a clue how to make our lives better. Unfortunately, we choose to ignore those clues thinking what applies to them is not relevant to me. But isn’t it why we’re all here after all — that our lives will serve as the clue to someone else’s? Sometimes those clues are very obvious, sometimes they are subtle, but they are always all around us.

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