The barrenness of a busy life

Inspiration is everywhere. I watched My Neighbor Totoro, by Hayao Miyazaki last weekend and remembered why I love this movie so much.

In the movie two girls and their father move to a house in the country, in order to be closer to their mother who’s in a rural hospital.

The pace of the movie is delightfully slow. Nothing is blown up and the dialog is super sparse. The pace is so slow, that you’ll find yourself noticing the beautiful animation and every nuance of life in rural Japan. Here are some tidbits that I especially liked:

  • All of the family’s possessions fit in a tiny moving truck.
  • The family doesn’t rush to after-school appointments or errands.
  • The kids have no toys, but have plenty of fun outside.
  • The family relies on neighbors for help (close knit community).
  • Nature and weather are central to the family’s day to day life.
  • They don’t own a car (they use a bike and the bus).
  • The family prepares and eats simple meals together (rice, veggies, and fish or seafood).
  • The family lives a slow-paced, non-consumer life.

Can these things be part of my life? How can I slow down and enjoy each day?

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates


11 thoughts on “The barrenness of a busy life

  1. I think I saw it a few years ago. Even allowing for cultural differences I was so creeped out by the father alone in the bathtub with his daughters, I had to stop watching. Am I thinking of the right movie?

  2. One of my favorite movies. In Japanese, with the subtitles, the pace is even slower, and it just “sounds” better than with the English dubbing, even if you can’t understand Japanese.
    The group bathing thing is still pretty common in Japan. I thought it was a rather sweet scene, really, especially for a culture in which the stereotype is that fathers are very distant and uninvolved with their kids.

  3. Being a nurse I have seen FAR worse so a family bathing scene..piece of cake.It seems we Americans know so little of other cultures never mind our own from which we came that it is hard to understand differences.I assure you we all have some basics in common like the love of our children.

  4. I tried to watch that movie and fell asleep…I guess it was the slow pace. I have heard that’s good and I think that the elements you mentioned are very interesting and do-able!

  5. I love this movie and all of Miyazaki movies, like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. They always have a great message about preserving nature or warnings about being consumerist driven.

  6. This is is a great movie you if you watch it for the entertainment value of it.
    While there is a nice and wholesomeness to the lifestyle of the people in the movie, there is also somewhat a negative portrayal of adults in this movie.
    Not only the father with daughters bath scene, but there is absolutely no adult responsibility or supervision of the young children.
    Yes, it is just a movie and that is how the story is. It is supposed to be just a cute animated movie.
    However, in the real world, they would be the type of parents who find their child abducted or drowned in the backyard pool.

    • I grew up in Japan. When I was a little kid, I’d always go to play outside with other kids without any adults watching after us. We’d go to woods, glass fields, rivers all by ourselves alone. I was very surprised with the fact that kids are never be left alone until as old as 12 in the U.S., because of high possibility of abduction. I feel so sorry for people in this country for living in an unsafe country. I also feel sorry for people here who can automatically only think about child molestation, not think about a heart-warming child care custom, when they see a father is bathing with his little daughters. If anyone think the scene is creepy or horrifying, well, I am sorry, you should re-think the way you look at things.

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