Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Regret and Decision hr639

on February 20, 2021

If I could go back in time by a time machine, I would most certainly choose one summer day in my senior year of high school and redo that day.
In the summer of my senior year, I had been in the final stage of study for the entrance exam to the leading university in Japan. My love for music was the biggest obstacle for study and I tended to lapse into listening to rock and pop records on the stereo easily. Since I spent too much time in music instead of study, I determined to stop listening music until the entrance exam was over. I pulled the plug of my stereo off the outlet, paste it on the wall of my room along with a handmade poster that said ‘Patience!’ in capital letters. I tried to devote everything for a life at the best university in Japan.
I was an avid fan of a Japanese band called Tulip. Most albums and tapes I had were theirs. I frequently went to their concert that would give me a heavenly time. I had had to stop going there as well in that summer. So ironically, or almost fatefully I should say, Tulip was having the 1000th concert that coincided that particular summer of that particular year, of all summers and years in the calendar. It was a milestone big enough for them and their fans to be held at an amusement park that was reserved specifically for the event for the whole day. The amusement park was operated as ‘Tulip Land’ for the day, where paper cups and plates donned Tulip Land’s special logos and designs that were available on that day only, commemorative goods were sold, games and events connected with Tulip were held during the daytime, and the 1000th special open-air concert was held in the evening. As you can imagine, it was a dream event in which fans would drool all over. For me, it would be the day with Woodstock, Comic-Con and Disneyland combined all together at one place. It would be actually a dream. There was no way to miss it.
Back then in Japan, it was an era of so-called ‘Entrance Exam War’. Students with four-hour sleep pass, and with five-hour fail, that was a general rule for the war. Not individual ability but a name of the school one was graduated from decided later income and social rank in Japan. It still does. I think a social structure like that has brought this long economic decline to today’s Japan. In a whirlpool of the relentless era, I was an immature, foolish high school senior who was willingly sucked into the war to get a name of the university. In the depth of it, I had looked for any possible way to spare time for the dream event. It would be held in Tokyo that was over 300 miles away from Kyoto where I lived. It couldn’t be a matter of a couple of hours but a two-day trip. It would be crazy to waste two days in the middle of fierce competition like ‘Entrance Exam War’. I reached a heartbroken decision. I chose to study in my room instead of going to Tulip Land.

Photo by Teddy Yang on Pexels.com

I had had gloomy days for a few months until the day of the event came. My dismal feeling culminated on the day. For the entire day, all I thought of was what was going on in Tulip Land. I glanced at the clock every hour and imagined what game was held by now. Is it a trivia quiz about Tulip? Or a lottery game for Tulip goods? Are fans sipping soda out of a paper cup that has ‘Tulip Land’ printed on the side? Has the concert started? By which song is it kicked off? Which song are they playing now? Are the fireworks showing? Is it done? Is it over now? I couldn’t focus on anything all day long. I spent the whole day in my room without studying at all.
At the end of the day, I realized I could have been there. I just might as well have gone to Tulip Land as wasted the whole day. I intensely regretted it and literally gnashed my teeth. I blamed myself for my stupidity. The size of regret appalled me so that I sincerely hoped never to feel this way.
I hopefully expected time would heal the regret. On the contrary, it had tortured me at length for months. The regret hadn’t been eased but deepened. It continued to ask me what I was doing, and the question had evolved gradually into why I was studying for the entrance exam, what going to the best university meant, whether it would bring happiness, and eventually, it began to ask me what I lived for. As I had grappled with those questions, I studied less and less. By the time of the entrance exam, I had lost interest in the university. Instead, I got a grip on what I really wanted to do.
I failed the exam not only to the leading university but to all the other famed ones I had chosen as a safety measure. Only one college of my worst-case scenario accepted me but I didn’t feel like going there. I decided to do what I want however society works or whatever people say because I simply didn’t want to experience that kind of regret again. All what I went through in that six-month period after one regret of Tulip Land set the course to take. I chose to live as a singer-songwriter.
Decades have passed, and yet Tulip’s 1000th concert pops up in my mind every time I think about regret. Tulip Land had never been held again. Since the band broke up and the guitarist passed away, it never will. I passed up the once in a lifetime event for sure. Time neither solved the problem nor eased the pain. I still agonize over how foolish I was not to go. In me, a word ‘regret’ stands for Tulip Land.


10 responses to “Regret and Decision hr639

  1. colinandray says:

    I once got to know a local bus driver, and found out that he had a couple of University degrees and all kinds of other academic recognition, so I had to ask him “Why are you driving a bus?” His answer has stuck with me for many years now.

    He said that driving a bus paid quite well and was mentally not very demanding. He worked predictable shifts so he could plan around his “off-work” time. Was it a rewarding job? No, but it had one crucially important factor … it had allowed him to follow other interests. Things that were important to him.

    I asked him whether, given his education, he had received any negativity when he had made the decision to drive a bus for a living.

    He smiled and said that his whole family was against it. They thought that he should follow social expectations and have a fulfilling and rewarding life. His response was that a rewarding life was very important to him, but why should such rewards have to come from a career? He explained to them that his seemingly mundane choice of work, simply provides the means to do more important things and, he stressed, so much “typical career” type work simply dictates dedication due to the responsibilities and subsequent stress involved. So many “professionals” simply do not have the time or energy to pursue other interests.

    I left that conversation in a very reflective mood and cannot fault his logic. Looking at my own history, all (literally all) of my most rewarding times have been when I volunteered into a service of some sort.

    How does it all relate to you? You are clearly intelligent enough to think things through and, it appears, strong enough to make your own decisions. I totally support and encourage as much education as you can handle. Education is never wasted, even though it may not be used to its full potential … but one should never let social or other pressures send you in a direction you are not happy with. Always listen to advice, but make your own decisions because, in many years from now, you will be reaping the results of these decisions. All those that tried to steer you in a different direction will have moved on with their lives. The most important person you will ever know … is you! Take care of you! Look after you! Show the world who you really are, and those that accept you are your friends. Those who don’t? Just let them go!

    • Hidemi Woods says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment and an interesting story about the bus driver. Pursuing what you want to do for your life tends to put you socially remote. But it’s incredibly rewarding, spiritually not financially. I wish my post encourages those who try as much as your comment encourages me. Thanks again, and best wishes.

  2. I looked up Tulip on YouTube and now I have Kokoro No Tabi stuck in my head.

    • Hidemi Woods says:

      Wow! Really? I’m so glad I was able to introduce Tulip to you. Just in passing, if you don’t know, Kokoro no Tabi means ‘a journey of the heart’. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Brian Hardin says:

    Great post about regret! Sorry you didn’t get to see Tulip. However, you made a great decision to focus on you! As Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way.”

  4. cat9984 says:

    Your story is very interesting. Born and raised in the US, I have never known that type of societal pressure. I’m sorry it’s left you with a lifelong regret.

    • Hidemi Woods says:

      Thanks for sharing what I felt and giving me a comment. My lifelong regret has made me defy societal pressure of any kind since then. Everything has its bright side, doesn’t it? I appreciate your comment. Thanks again!

  5. Toonsarah says:

    It’s interesting that you still feel so much regret about not going that day. I understand how much it must have hurt to miss the event but consider this. If you had gone you would have returned home determined to make up the lost time and study hard. You would have got into that university and your life might have followed a very different and less fulfilling path. So maybe your life is better for having missed the big day, hard though it was at the time?

    • Hidemi Woods says:

      Thanks for such an illuminating comment. If I had been a wiser teenager, I could have seen it from a different angle, but yes, it was so hard at the time! I wish I read your comment decades before. It’s certainly a load off. Thank you again, and best wishes.

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