My Tokyo housemates were disgusted
with my girlfriend's sounds-2000
Mystery question: as you read this story,
guess the life principles that are expressed. My answers are at the end.
Meeting Dawn (April 14, 2000)
I stopped a young woman on the campus of Tokyo University to ask directions to the canteen. After giving me directions, Dawn and I just kept talking (I never did get to the canteen). I felt excitement and liked her instantly (it seemed she felt that too for me).
Within a month we were lovers. A thirty-three old medical doctor from Harbin, China, she was doing advance genetic research at Tokyo University. She was so brilliant that the university purchased over $100,000 in research equipment just for her use. When I met her, she had already discovered a new mouse gene.
The place she lived had no real privacy, so we usually made love on Saturdays in the room that I rented at a house near the Uguisudani subway stop in Tokyo. When I made love to her, she made a lot of noise, driving my lust for her to new heights.
Five other Japanese rented other rooms on the second and third floors of the same house. My room was just off the kitchen, bathroom, and living room on the first floor.
When Dawn was screaming, I sometimes thought to myself, "Maybe the other renters can hear her sounds and they might find them unpleasant." But I made the assumption that if they did, they would let me know. Then Dawn and I would find a way to lower her volume.
I was wrong! I heard no complaints or requests. Everything seemed normal in my relationships with my housemates. Until one Saturday. Dawn was visiting and she went outside my room to get some water from the kitchen. She met Hatsuo-san there, one of my male housemates. When she returned to the room, she told me that Hatsuo-san told her that she was not welcome to be a visitor in the house.
Even though I already knew that Japanese were reluctant to say "no" or indicate displeasure with anything directly, I never guessed it would go to this extreme with a friendly, open American like I was (and they knew Americans, in general, liked being more direct). Probably the only reason Hatsuo-san was so direct with Dawn was that most Japanese (at least at that time) felt a simmering enmity and disdain for Chinese (and Chinese, I learned later, can have that attitude toward the Japanese, justifying it by what the Japanese did in WWII).
Later, talking with Hatsuo-san, I discovered the upset had been building with him and the other housemates for at least two months. I talked with another housemate 23-year-old Kumiko-san, whom I considered to be a pretty good friend, asking her, "Kumiko-san, why didn't you let me know you were bothered by the sound? I thought we were good friends." She responded with, "I can't believe you didn't
already know how disgusting it was."
The problem (for both Dawn and me)
Making love with Dawn and visiting with her at least once a week was not something I was willing to do without.
But the pressure was building. All my housemates were aligned against us. And the landlord Kenichi-san was taking their side and agreeing with them. "Majority rules," was his position. The argument that my rental agreement allowed me to have guests and that Dawn and I would reduce the noise so that no one would hear it (we already had), my reasons had no effect on his position. He kept insisting that "Majority rules. How can you not know that? You're American where democracy rules."
By this time, I don't think it mattered to my housemates that they couldn't hear any "disgusting" sounds any more, I suspect their racism (against Chinese) had been stimulated and the only way they could express it against Dawn was through me. Again, this was an assumption I made that may or may not have been true, but it was the only "reasonable" explanation I could think of to explain their continued pressure for Dawn not to visit me in the house. But even if this "racism" assumption were true, I could not see a way to use it to make any difference in getting what Dawn and I wanted.
I could just "hunker down" and refuse to budge. I don't think Kenichi-san could have tried to use the police to force me out of the house prior to the end of our rental agreement...or to somehow prevent Dawn from visiting me. I knew I was easily within my legal (and even moral) rights. However, I considered the costs and possible risks of doing this. First off, I would probably be ostracized by my housemates for the rest of my time I lived in the house. By itself, I probably could have accepted that cost as a price I was willing to pay to continue to visit and make love with Dawn weekly in my room. The other issue was more unknown (and maybe unfounded). But I thought, given the level of righteousness that my housemates seemed to be feeling against me and Dawn, I might be risking that one of them would trespass into my room (and destroy my computer or whatever) at a time when I was not in the house. And I didn't see anyway to put an effective lock on my door to ensure that would not happen (and a lock might even encourage it). If one of them trashed my computer system, it would cause a major disruption in my daily coaching calls with my clients in the USA, something that was very important to not happen. In my housemates eyes I was the bad buy, disrespecting the deep cultural idea of "consensus, or the appearance of it, must be maintained at all costs," echoing the Japanese proverb of, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down." I could easily understand how it might make sense to one of them to do some "fully justified" trespassing according to their deeply held values.
The more I delayed agreeing to their demands the more they insisted that Dawn discontinue any visits to the house (expressed through Kenichi-san, who had been put in the middle of all of this; my housemates were not communicating with me any more).
I had been sharing all of this "drama" with Dawn and she was so good about it. She didn't even seem to be blaming my housemates or the Japanese. She was not like many other Chinese (I found out later after I moved to China), who did hate the Japanese. She said she would do what ever I decided was best.
At this point, I was already on course to move to Shanghai. The departure date was a bit less than three months off at that point. The least expensive hotel room in Tokyo that we could find was about a $100 a night. Dawn had a generous scholarship and was happy to help defray some of this expense. We decided to check into one of these "love hotels," as they're called in Japan and use that for making love and some of our visiting together (doing the rest in parks or wherever). This not only could solve the problem with my housemates, we got some added bonus of the "specialness" of going to a different "love hotel" each week. After looking at the cost/benefit/risk ratio of doing this as contrasted to "hunkering down" (the only other option that I saw that might work), it was an easy choice. Dawn and I did the "love hotel" circuit!
How I increased the benefits even more
Even though I could have just said to Kenichi-san, "I don't like it and I don't think it's fair, but I agree that Dawn won't visit me any more." I decided that an "acting job" would be much more effective in getting the responses that I wanted both from Kenichi-san and from my Japanese housemates.
We all could (and had) communicated by email. I carefully composed an email that I sent to all six people. It said something like, "I was so wrong. I don't know why I didn't see it before. You've been right all along. I regret all the upset and discomfort that I caused to each one of you. I feel so bad. I hope you might be able to forgive me for this big mistake. If you can't, I understand. I fully and immediately agree to your request. My girlfriend will not visit with me in this house any more. I promise. With sincere apologies, Dwight."
I felt no guilt for what I had done previously. I did it knowing that it would continue to stimulate discomfort for Kenichi-san and my housemates. I had accepted that as an unavoidable cost I was willing to incur in order to get the results I was going for (that is, for my housemates and especially Kenichi-san to come around to accepting that Dawn was going to continue to visit with me). But when I saw that this approach was not working and was not likely to work and was just making things worse, it didn't matter that I thought I was "right." As Werner Erhard said, "You can be right or you can get what you want, but not both." It made sense to "give up." So I decided to do the best job of "giving up" in order to get the best possible results in going this new give-up way.
The email I sent out (all individually sent) had it intended effect (and maybe even more than I had hoped for). Kenichi-san replied that he understood and there was no problem now. He thanked me for my good decision. The other housemates started saying "hello" to me when we encountered each other from time to time, as if nothing had ever happened. And then there was the icing in the cake: Hatsuo-san offered to help me (without me even asking him) when I started to pack up many boxes of belongings I was pre-shipping to a friend in Shanghai (who would hold them for me). His help was invaluable. Not surprisingly, he was a better "box packer" than I was.
Have your guessed which life principle I was intending to illustrate with this story?
For the most part, I was able to refrain from getting righteous toward Kenichi-san and my housemates. I was able to avoid being sucked into the House of Good and Bad. Even at that time (almost 21 years ago now (I am writing this in March of 2021), I had developed some skill and facility of avoiding the temptations of being sucked back into my previous addiction of being righteous (a seriously endemic condition for all of humanity).
Consequently, I was able to view the circumstances involved from the perspective of benefits/costs/possibilities/risks, both short-term and long-term, for myself and others, with the intention of finding the best courses of action to increase the benefits and possibilities, both for myself and others, both short-term and long-term (see BeCoPoRiNNOO).
If I had still been locked inside the HOGAB, as I had been earlier in my life, I am sure that drama would have turned out much worse than it did (for everyone involved). But because I was not blinded by the toxic glasses of righteousness, I was able to make distinctions, use some creativity, plot a course of action, and follow through on it (along with Dawn's support), resulting in a much better outcome (in this case, for everyone involved, not just Dawn and me) than it would have been if I were still living inside the HOGAB, as my landlord and housemates were.
Are you able to appreciate the huge benefits available to you by leaving the HOGAB?
Most people are not even aware of the possibility of (and benefits of) living a life outside the HOGAB. If you proposed that idea to them, then could easily reply with, "Of course there's right and wrong. Everyone agrees with that. Even the people I know are often wrong, know that there's right and wrong. How would it be possible to make the right decisions? How would we be able to protect ourselves from the bad guys or people who are doing the wrong things without knowing what's right and wrong and doing our best to do what's right? You're asking for anarchy and justifying immorality. That's just wrong."
And, even if you get an idea of the benefits, then even with consistent action in the direction of letting go of the addiction to righteousness, it's going to take a while. And, most probably, you'll still feel the pull of that prior addiction from time to time (I know I do). Yet I suggest, if you start along this new possible path, overall things will only get better. Ultimately, hugely better.
The possibility for you
If you're interested in exploring this possibility, I invite you to head over to the Life Tutorial. After you get through the heavy-duty appetizers, it leads you right into the "meat and potatoes," Undoing Shoulds.