Words: Enishi


One of the best things about modern society, is that it allows us to be nonconformists. At least in most western countries, if you are born in the wrong environment, surrounded by people and circumstances that limit you, there are more chances for you than in past eras to move, meet new people and start again. One doesn’t have to suffer forever an unfortunate or plainly abusive marriage, a tyrannical boss, a village full of gossips and dictators in pure Lorca (yes; Federico García) style, the kind who don’t allow you to express your identity under threat of social exclusion or the impossibility to gain access to an income. You are convinced it’s your right to be independent, that you have right to be yourself despite social convention/impositions, to get rid of toxic influences, may they come even from other family members, that you have right to grow and develop. Even regarding interests and hobbies, if you don’t find your folk around you it’s easier than before to meet someone that shares your views, spirit and ideas in Internet.

Nevertheless, we also have lost part of something: overabundance sometimes makes us numb to the enjoyment and appreciation of what we already possess. There is one Japanese concept, Enishi 縁, that reminds me of that.

The word Enishi has various nuances:

(1) fate; destiny (esp. as a mysterious force that binds two people together)
(2) relationship (e.g. between man and woman); bond; link; connection
(3) family ties; affinity
(4) opportunity; chance (to meet someone and start a relationship)

Professor, philosopher and engineer Hiroshi Tasaka, defines Enishi as a relationship to which we are destined for. He also explains how increased life expectancy makes us act and behave as if, somehow, we were immortals: “Since I’m going to live about 80 years, there’s time enough to do someday what I intend, wasted time is not really such an issue because there are many days ahead of me and many more opportunities”. This mindset, undoubtedly, has its perks: it set us free from the anguish, fear of death, it makes us believe it’s never too late. But it also makes us careless, waste the very little we really possess: our time. 80 years is much less than we imagine and wasted time never comes back. The opportunities we keep postponing might never reappear. What we procrastinate often never gets done because it’s forgotten, because of lacking enough will power or because it gets diluted in the whirl of daily duties. We have unlearnt the enjoyment and the thrill within a moment. We have our eyes set in our wishful better future but we forget to work properly for it today. We also forget that life expectancy is a statistical average we are not guaranteed to reach.

In a way, the same happens with persons. The presumed easiness to meet “people” makes us forget that the meaning of relationships is that we help each other to grow. It prevents us from valuing the people that surround us, to enjoy everything they offer us and visualize all of their potential. Never mind, there will always be another person to replace that particular one, there will always be more people. It makes us believe that someday there we’ll have enough time to dedicate it to that particular someone. It has us convinced that the most profound, intimate connections with other people are abundant and that we are gifted with them in every step we take because of destiny, without our intervention or need for care. It makes us believe, wrongly, that all that we have it’s just because of what we did ourselves without anyone’s aid, and therefore, we are not ready to grant help to anyone. It makes us forgetting the strength of mutual support, something that is not far from being one of the causes of the economical crisis we are suffering, because the powerful castes do not forget, however as much as they may disagree, that they depend on each other.

Most puzzling thing is that this happens even with the people with whom we have a stronger Enishi and therefore, more full of possibilities, frequently missed or wasted. And it’s also peculiar that we might have a very powerful Enishi with people we clash with: maybe that confrontation makes us grow, but if the two persons involved do not handle the situation properly, both with a good will to overcome the situation while commanding respect at the same time, it might turn into a sad encounter.

It is also surprising how many people can feel profoundly alone in the middle of the crowd and surrounded by ever more gadgets and technologies to communicate. I remember how amazing was to some people in Senegal the story of an more than middle aged European woman who had decided to dwell in there.

-”But, doesn’t she have someone in her country that misses her and who she misses?” -they asked.

Leaving aside that the woman was happy in there, the Senegalese could not understand that someone, without any particular reason would decide to live so far away from their loved ones. The lady used to claim, that her daughter never had time to call or go see her anyway and that her friends were busy with their own lives without meeting her any often or help her with her business.

In Senegal they couldn’t make sense of what she told, it was a total alien concept to them that someone could be completely alone.

Is it really not compatible the defence of our individual freedom with mutual support and understanding? Is it so hard to get to be ourselves that it prevent us from unlock all the potential those random encounters, the product of many improbable outcomes, hide inside? Or is it to make out who loves us well and invests truly in us beyond personal interest and empty social courtesy? Can’t we find a balance in reinforcing our identity and growing together at the same time?

I think ignoring Enishi makes us smaller. I am even drinking all my milk yet in case I might grow. And I’m still enrolling pirates for my ship.

3 Responses to “Words: Enishi”

  1. Itsa says:

    Thank you for such an interesting thought. I recommend you the book “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I will never ignore my enishi again! :P

  2. Laura says:

    Gracias por el blog!! Nos encanta cómo escribes.

  3. Elena says:

    Me ha sido imposible ignorar el Enishi que he sentido contigo al leer tu blog!! Aquí tienes una piratilla para tu barco…Espero crecer mucho siguiéndote los pasos!!!

Leave a Reply to Elena