2022 Reads №. 7: No Longer Human
“I suppose it would be no exaggeration to say that the world is composed entirely of unhappy people. But those people can fight their unhappiness with society fairly and squarely, and society for its part easily understands and sympathizes with such struggles.”
Written in 1948, this book surprisingly describes mental health in a modern way. It is full of dark thoughts that I relate to in one way or another, although we must remember that one of the good things about Japanese literature is that they are always open for interpretation. My thoughts may not necessarily be the same as yours or the author’s, especially if we do not have the same thought paradigm.
Albeit I had a different perspective towards the world compared to Yozo, the main character of this book, I still had a lot of moments where I could connect to him. I was empathic towards him despite his thoughts about human beings. I felt sympathy; how sad it is for a child to have an impression that there is no way to live other than being a clown.
In other words, to live your life wearing a mask that is too heavy to bear.
But aren’t we, people, full of masks? We are different in the presence of other people — may it be our friends, our families, our colleagues — than when we look at ourselves in the mirror in our rooms. When we are alone, we tend to grimace more naturally and say words that might even hurt us;
It is true what they say — we are very cruel with ourselves, especially when we are all on our own. All these facades bring nothing but emptiness, loneliness, and worst of all — anger — particularly those who still do not know how to control them.
No Longer Human is a book that summarizes what we all know (or maybe something that a few have not realized yet): our childhood traumas, if left unresolved, will come back one day and haunt us. That is why it is crucial for children to know that if they need help, they have someone who will attend to and guide them along the way. For them to see the real world but still get to enjoy the beautiful parts of it. The book also reminds us that there is no point in running away from these traumas. I understand that it is easier said than done, but it is what it is.
Traumas, pain, and the abuses, if left trapped in our own little bubble, will someday burst out from it, causing you to feel all the pain again, aggressive more than ever. And to be honest, that is the ideal part. Because most of the time, these dark emotions we have trapped for a very long time, once they are out, they do not only hurt you — but also the people around you.
“Now I have neither happiness nor unhappiness. Everything passes. That is the one and the only thing I have thought resembled a truth in the society of human beings where I have dwelled up to now as in a burning hell. Everything passes.”
This line broke my heart the most. It was when Yozo felt nothing; not happiness, not sadness. It was as if he could not care less. I have been in a situation where I had no choice but to accept things; I felt nothing but dread, weariness, and loneliness inside of me. So, I had to gasp for air when I came across this line. And honestly, I would not want to see people living this life. It was depressing to read and realize along the way that there were only two things that kept Yozo going: the short-term happiness and the multiple exits that he made for himself. There is no hope, no love, no nothing.
I have always thought that happiness is an ideal and overly romanticized word. It is subjective and is rather hard to measure. One’s source of happiness may not necessarily be the happiness you have on top of your mind right now. While it may be hard to gain happiness over time, I only have one wish for you: empathy. Not kindness. Empathy.
Empathy is such a lifesaver in this cruel world; It is a powerful tool to at least try to understand what other people are going through and establish a good rapport with one another.
A few of my life mentors have told me that I have a gift of empathy. Most of the time, I weep for those who could not. Albeit sometimes it wears me out, I am grateful I have it. Otherwise, I would not know how to relate to society considering my hobbies and interests.
Dear, may your empathy be something that keeps someone going today. Sending love and light on your way. ♡