Shigeru AoiRepresentative Director of A-TOM Co. Ltd.

When something happens, does it matter whether it is good luck, or bad luck?

The Modern Times is a masterpiece featuring Chaplin, the King of Comedy. As the main character of this film, Chaplin, as a factory worker under surveillance through a monitor, is stuck to the belt conveyor all day. He repeats the same simple labor of tightening the nails with a spanner, over and over again. One day, he causes a disturbance in the factory, and is sent to a mental hospital. After leaving the hospital, he happens to encounter a vagrant girl running away from stealing bread. The factory worker and this girl repeatedly becomes tossed about by fate, becoming devastated, though, managing to hold each other’s hand and walk towards their future. The film ends by the phrase, “Don’t give up, and cheer up! Luck will turn in your favor!”

Ever since I was born, I have perceived myself as having good luck. The title of “a grandson of the founder of a first listed Tokyo Stock Market company”, indeed, have put heavy pressure on my shoulders, but, it has never been a hindrance for anything. After graduating from university and having experienced working in many companies, I have started working in one of the companies that my grandfather had founded, A-TOM, and there, have been involved in a real estate business. In this stage of life, I must say, that “luck” has had a great importance for me. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is up to luck whether one encounters on a good real estate or not. Of course, one cannot depend 100% on luck for such fortunate encounters, and many visits, comparisons, and considerations are required before encountering on “the one”. Nevertheless, whether one can encounter “the one” amongst the numerous real estates in Japan surely depends largely on luck.

In regard to “luck”, I have a very interesting episode. In 2013, I was able to purchase the Courtyard Hiroo through auction. Actually, I had missed the chance of purchasing this a year before due to another company’s successful bid. This company paid the deposit, and I was full of pity of not having been able to have won the bid. However, unexpectedly, this company cancelled the purchase, and the real estate, for the second time, was on the bidding table. I instantly jumped onto this, and was able to purchase it. What is luck?I have lived in the US for a while, and found that the American people basically do not think of things depending on luck. For them, it seems that luck is something you win to get, and I wonder if this comes from their way of thinking from their frontier spirit or the American dream that is absorbed in their souls. Their way of thinking is, in many occasions, mentioned in the context of a know-how theory of “How to win to get luck”, instead of the fatalistic way of thinking of “How will luck come?”Meanwhile, I am a Japanese, and regardless of a particular evidence, I believe that some big power plays a part in “luck”. Perhaps a sense of belief for something or an animistic way of thinking is influencing me unconsciously. Or, perhaps, this comes from my being ill or injured in the past.

I had been hospitalized for two months due to a kidney illness just before entering elementary school. I had been very spoilt then, and remember vividly how shocked I was the first moment of stepping into a six-patient room in the children’s hospital. The five-year-old I, on entering hospital was absolutely devastated! For a boy who had been so spoilt throughout his life, the life in hospital was controlled so much that it was nothing but pain. When the evening hour came and it was time for my family to leave my hospital room, I remember suddenly becoming so lonely, and even thought, “Why did I come to this world?”, and was nearly crushed from such loneliness. My six-patient room was always full, but, occasionally, a bed would become empty. Then, not before long, another new patient would fill that empty bed. This routine would be repeated again and again. An empty seat is constantly filled with another person, and I guess, my seat, that I am taking now in place of some person before me, will be again replaced by another after myself. When thinking this way, I feel that my life is not totally mine, but, one part of a continuous line that is passed on to the next.

If this is so, I feel that it is not a big issue for myself to think or to define whether what has just happened to me is good luck or not. What is the meaning of labeling each action whether it was good luck or bad luck? As each wave of the sea is different, the wave of life can be at times be “good luck” and also, “bad luck”. After graduating from university, I experienced living with a founder of a famous surfing brand company in California. His love for nature was so great that he would only talk about the sea from morning to night. A surfer would observe the movements of the waves from the distant bay, and quickly paddle towards the spot where the waves would reach their highest point. However, in fact, even though they estimate for their waves to reach the peak point at a certain spot, the waves could turn out not to be as high as they had expected, or, somebody else could have already taken the wave to ride on before them. At such occasions, the surfer would say, “Oh, well…Let’s see whether I’ll have luck for the next wave!” and turn his or her mind decidedly to a positive one. Whether a person can be a good surfer depends on this ability to switch clearly his or her mind to a positive mind. By going along with the flow of nature, one is naturally made to face the unexpected or what was not measured; however, comes to realize that he or she is only existent because of the great nature that goes far beyond human understanding.

In life, there are moments where one has to just tolerate with their heads down for the passing of the storm while he or she is swollen in the rough waves. In the past, I have seen TV dramas that illustrated such scenes, but, these only seemed like trivial everyday matters. Of course, for the characters in such dramas, it may have been tragic moments, but, as one observer watching the drama from a third-person point of view, as a whole, it would leave me with the impression like, “What a warm-hearted human drama it was!” Returning to Chaplin’s Modern Times, if one observed each happening of this factory worker, it would certainly be sad, lonely, and perhaps, devastating. However, the film ends with a very strong message, “Don’t give up! You can open your door of good luck!” Does this not symbolize what Chaplin later on his life mentioned, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot”? To look at each tragedy in life with a view of an insect, or, to look at life from a distance with a view of a bird, that is the question. Personally, I would like to be the latter, being able to view comprehensively from a higher view. I feel that people that are able to do so, will be the fortunate ones that are able to find the little “lucks” that have fallen onto the ground.