Life is all about Encounters, Eye-opening Experiences, and Meditations
人生論で知られる文芸評論家、亀井勝一郎の「人生 邂逅し 開眼し 瞑目す」という言葉があります。思いがけない人生の出会いが、自らの道を気付かせ、肩を押してくれる。皆さんもそんな出会いが2018年の春に必ず待っていると思います。ご縁を大切にしてください。
Spring is often said to be the season of ‶encounters" and ‶farewells" in Japan. Allow me to indulge in a personal anecdote, about someone I met a long, long time ago. It was in the spring of 1977 that my encounter with Dr. Itsushi Baba, a man 13 years older than me, took place. Dr. Baba has been a mentor and role model for me since then.
When I joined the Department of Orthopedics at Hiroshima University after graduating from medical school, Dr. Baba was putting his heart and soul into spine/spinal cord surgeries. To him, face-to-face clinical practice with his patients seemed to be all that mattered, and in fact Dr. Baba was advising us not to conduct experiments for the sake of them, or for the purpose of earning PhDs. Naturally, Dr. Baba did not have a PhD., but he was known for his strictness in clinical practice. Many of his accomplishments were world-class, and following his death, his books on surgery were published in English in the United States of America.
I was often reprimanded by Dr. Baba in the operating theater, rendering me speechless, and I remember the theatre nurses responsible for handing surgical instruments to Dr. Baba, were sometimes in tears (these days, Dr. Baba would probably be accused of bullying harassment). Whether work-related or related to my private life, Dr. Baba often gave me the following advice: ‶Stay in the hospital from early morning until night. Publish articles. Be meticulous with your grooming and appearance. Shampoo your hair in the morning. Love art...”
Although Dr. Baba was very strict as a mentor, his overall personality was actually very charming. In those days, my ex-tutor Professor Kenya Tsuge was a world-famous authority in ‶Hand Surgery." We used to have many visitors from overseas who came to see his surgeries. Every time Professor Tsuge had visitors from abroad, it was Dr. Baba who kindly invited them for home-cooked meals at his place prepared by his wife. I was also often asked to be present at those home parties, simply in order to ‶come and practice English with the visitors from overseas countries."
Even after he was transferred to Hiroshima City Asa Citizens Hospital, every now and then Dr. Baba continued to ask me: ‶Are you still publishing articles in English? Still operating? Go and study abroad. Aspire to become a professor. You must become a professor."
At the age of 43, I was appointed as a professor at Shimane Medical University. I remember inviting Dr. Baba to give a lecture in Shimane. Following his lecture, I invited Dr. Baba to an end-of-year party attended by most of my fellow orthopedic surgeons at the local restaurant located in Tamatsukuri Onsen (hot spring). Upon our request for a speech by our esteemed guest, Dr. Baba stood in front of the microphone, and surrounded by absolute silence in the large room, he made the following comments: ‶Although I have always urged Ochi to become a professor, I never thought he would actually become one," which was a kind of joke he was good at telling. I fondly recall some rather awkward chuckles breaking the silence. I only wanted to do earth-shattering work to surprise orthopedic surgeons worldwide, and never actually wanted to become a professor. However, it was an absolute honor and pleasure for me to know someone like Dr. Baba, who never failed to encourage and give me a supportive push.
Known for his work “人生論 (Essays on Life),” Mr. Katsuichiro Kamei, a noted Japanese literary critic, left the following saying : 「人生 邂逅し 開眼し 瞑目す」 (“Life is all about Encounters, Eye-opening Experiences, and Meditations.” Sometimes, an unexpected encounter with someone can make you realize something about the path you should be following in your life, and that someone can encourage you by tapping you on the shoulder, asking you to step forward. I personally think that such an encounter is probably waiting for you in the spring of 2018. Please make each encounter count in your life.