When I lived in Japan I used to go to Japanese class with this guy called Rob, who told me that after every lesson he wanted to run away. He’d go to the station to catch his train home, look at the board and think, I should just go there. Or there. No one would care if I did. He felt excitement just reading the names of the cities.

Yet every week he went his three stops, got off and went home. He couldn’t bring himself to do it, no matter how strong the urge was.

I asked him if it was just that he was bored with his job – he taught English at a high school – or missing home, but he said, no, he loved his job, and his school. The students were great, his colleagues better. He just wondered, what if? In the grand scheme of things, would it matter if he disappeared?

After we both left Japan, we stayed in touch. He wrote me an email once in a while, and I wrote one back. He moved to Vietnam to teach there, and said sometimes when he was riding his motorbike he’d feel the urge to just drive into other drivers, speed up and go head on into a truck.

I asked why, was he depressed? But he said, no, he was fine. He got even more out of the job there than when he was in Japan. He was moving up. Soon he’d be a senior teacher. And, anyway, he’d never actually do it. It was just a thought, there and then gone.

After Vietnam, he moved to Hong Kong. He got his promotion and loved every minute of it. He said it was like getting paid to do his hobby, but that sometimes when he was alone in his apartment – he lived on the 26th floor – he would go on to his balcony and feel this weird sensation, a tingle in the back of his calves, telling him to jump. He could do it. Why not? It wasn’t such a long way down, he’d be all right, and if he died it’d be over quicker than anything.

Again, I asked him if he was all right, or whether it was like the train thing in Japan or the motorbike crash thing in Vietnam. He told me yes, it was stupid. He’d never do it, but for some reason on his balcony he imagined he could jump without dying.

After that we lost touch. I got married, had kids. Keeping in touch with someone I’d gone to Japanese class with years before didn’t seem that important. If he wrote, I’d reply. If we met, I’m sure we would pick up exactly where we left off.

Then one day I was deleting old emails when I came across one of his and decided to reply to it. I thought, why not, it’d be good to hear from him, his travels, his latest weird urge.

I wrote just a few sentences, nothing more than a where are you now, and a quick personal newsflash. The response was immediate. The email could not be sent. I thought about googling him. Then I stopped. In the grand scheme of things, would it matter if I let him disappear?


12 thoughts on “The Grand Scheme of Things

      • Over the years I had many people go in and out of my life. I think of a lot of people I’ve known. I search for them on fb, google and other networks. Maybe we won’t be friends again but knowing how or even if they are alive is comforting. I’m disabled and can’t do a lot of things anymore so I remince a lot. I think of people who just passed through my life and wonder how they are. I say sad because you never know how you touch a person’s life or even how they touched yours. This person touched your life enough for you to write about him. Its sad that the relationship appears to severed.

      • The severance is definitely sad, but then how many people can we have truly meaningful relationships with? How many relationships are just meaningful for a little a while and then not? Should we maintain these relationships? Is it even possible? By the way, it’s not a true story. Some of the ideas are real but the whole thing is made up

      • Well it’s an excellent fiction. No some people are only in our lives for a short time. But we don’t know if we kept in touch they may have a bigger impact. I have friends who kept in touch with many of their friends over the years. i envy those people, they have so many people they can turn to when they need help with something. I’m not one, hell, I don’t even keep in touch with some of my family and we are small. Reason is I rather be alone writing and when someone calls they interrupt my flow. I’m just saying i have friends from childhood I would love to get in touch with to find out how they are or if they are even still alive. I’m 54 with lupus and at one point they doctors had me dead. I started seeing my life pass before my eyes. So I guess this where these thoughts come from. 🙂

      • There’s definitely the thing about bigger impact. How many things have we missed? How many things might’ve made our lives worse or better, but then you can’t really do much about that really, can you? I wonder sometimes with people who have loads of friends – how many of them are actually meaningful?

      • That’s true. I have two long time friends one since we were 5 & 6 and one from HS. It may be months between conversations but when we talk we can tell each other anything. I have other friends but it’s basically how are you and the kids. Good to hear and that’s it. Meaningful is the quality of friendship that matters.

  1. People disappear from our lives every now and then. As for this old friend of yours, perhaps he finally jumped. That feeling to one day just wake up and vanish, open a portal, if I could, and leap in to God knows where, I’ve had it too. Sometimes I feel so bound on earth, gravity pulling me down and the atmosphere pressing down on me relentlessly, and around me supreme madness constantly manifest. If I could sublime, I would.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s