There are many inspiring quotes from Japanese drama Beach Boys. Rewatching the series every few years still results in me uncovering new meaning in the lines.
I’ve shared how the series changed my life. In this post, we’ll look at some of the moments that I found memorable and meaningful.
Disclaimer: While I try to avoid spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the drama, I can’t guarantee not revealing any details that might spoil the show. Actually, don’t even read this if you haven’t seen the TV series!
- Adulting is hard
- Life is a smile
- Simple is best
- Go with the flow
- Swimming in the ocean
- Be stupid
- Have faith in your decisions
- Do what you want, while you still can
- No effort is wasted
- Find what you love
- Realise when you are in a comfort zone
- Find your ocean
- Sometimes, you never really belonged
- Only you get to decide what is right
- Embrace the journey
- Forever Beach Boys
Adulting is hard
Hiromi on childhood vacations:
Wasn’t summer vacation fun when you were little? Why was it so much fun? It’s not that I hated school or that it was hard for me. But summer vacation would get me so excited and happy. It’s not that I did anything special either. Why don’t adults feel that way?
Life becomes dull and depressing when we grow up. The term used nowadays is adulting. Adulting is hard.
This is a reminder not to loose our innocence and approach things in life with excitement and joy. Life is too short to focus on the negative or feel sad or sorry for oneself.
Life is a smile
Hiromi on smiling:
And you’d better learn how to smile more. Life is a smile. Get it?
A smile is more than just a facial expression. It is a state of mind. It is an emotion. Feel the smile and convey the feelings within you.
To me, the phrase “Life is a smile” is a poignant one. Smile when you’re happy. You know it will come to an end, so enjoy it while it lasts. Smile when you’re down. You know that it, too, will come to an end, so don’t worry about it and accept that it will get better soon.
Simple is best
Kaito asks Masaru, “Why did you start this Mishuku?”
Because I thought it’ll be fun. I didn’t think too hard I just thought I wanted to do it, so I decided I would. Simple is best.
The Japanglish actually makes the quote more memorable.
Don’t overthink things. Think it through, but don’t think too hard. Sometimes we just need to follow our hearts. Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis.
It is only through taking action that we understand if what we are doing is the right thing. So take the first step and do it. Whatever the outcome, you will have learnt something that you wouldn’t have if you just sat there thinking instead of doing.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to just do it. Of course, it is not that easy. We tend to take the safer route and err on the side of caution. Stay in our comfort zone and not push ourselves.
However, taking action is a lot more valuable and brings results that are feedback that tell us whether we need to improve, or if we’re on the right track.
Simple is (the) best.
Go with the flow
Hiromi giving Kaito advice on how to chop firewood, and sharing his philosophy on life:
If you put too much power into it, you’ll mess up. It’s like life.
Sometimes we try to hard or push too hard to get things done in a certain way. If we try to force things, we might end up making things more difficult for ourselves.
Just like how chopping firewood is all about going with the motion of the falling axe and letting gravity do the job. Our hands are there just to hold the axe firmly and guide the swing. If you use too much power, you might end up swinging wildly and not chopping at the spot you were aiming for.
Likewise, we should go with the flow in life. I’ll point out that going with the flow doesn’t mean avoiding obstacles. It is more of finding ways to deal with or get past the problems or obstacles. Don’t use excessive force to solve a problem. As Bruce Lee said, be like water, my friend.
Swimming in the ocean
Hiromi, an Olympic swimmer, on swimming in the ocean:
It must be tough to live just doing what you love. I’ve never swum in the ocean. To be honest, I’m a little scared of it. Because there’re no lanes or a finishing line. That’s why I couldn’t swim in the ocean.
People often envy others who do what they love. I pursue doing what I love, and do my best to create an environment where my team gets to do likewise.
Yet, it is far from the rosy picture that people would imagine. Just like there are no lanes or finishing lines in the ocean, there are no boundaries when you do what you love. We often end up blurring the lines between work and life.
When what you do is what you love, it takes discipline to create boundaries to separate work from our personal lives.
Hiromi loves the ocean but dares not swim in it. How many of us have things we love to do, but we are afraid of turning it into our work. Doing so might just make what we love become a chore and lose its appeal. Though, I would argue that it could be a sign that you didn’t really love it that much if that were the case.
Ever since my post on the meaning of life, I have been actively seeking purpose in my fleeting time in this world. Recently, I started reading about ikigai. It is a Japanese concept that means something that gives a sense of purpose for living.
National Geographic reporter Dan Buettner suggests that ikigai is a possible factor contributing to the longevity of people in Okinawa, Japan. Okinawans do what they love for as long as they are healthy, choosing not to retire. To them, they don’t work. They are devoted to their purpose in life, and thus enjoy fulfilment in life.
Find your ikigai and you would be able to swim in the ocean that you love. Your ocean.
Kaito on being stupid:
For the first time in my life, I want to try being stupid. It might make me feel good.
You’ll need a bit of backstory here to understand the context. Kaito is a white-collar employee in a large multinational trading company. He graduated from an elite university and basically grew up as a high-flyer chasing success in the big city.
He realises that he has been living a life that is laid out for and expected of him, based his education background and career path. While on vacation, Kaito meets Hiromi, a guy living a carefree life doing whatever he wants, and starts to doubt if he truly enjoys the life he has.
Instead of following a stable career path before him, he contemplates pursuing what he loves. To others, Kaito is giving up on a life that others would snap up in a heartbeat. In other words, he is being stupid.
I can totally relate. I watched the series when I was considering leaving my job as a pharmacist. It struck home how I felt not pursuing my passion.
I also watched the drama again after I started pursuing entrepreneurship for a few of years. It still rubbed at me. I still meet people who are unable to understand why I chose to give up a stable, comfortable career. It is hard to explain if they haven’t found their purpose in life.
Sometimes, being stupid might be the right thing to do, especially if you’re following your heart.
Have faith in your decisions
Kaito knows what he wants, yet he harbours doubts over the choice he made. He calls his girlfriend Sakura and asks, “Did I make the wrong decision?”
Sakura is merciless with her response:
Do you want me to say you did? It was wrong. No matter who you ask, they’d say the same. But you wanted to do it, right?
It doesn’t matter if what you did was right or wrong. We are talking about whether it is the right decision here, not doing illegal or immoral things.
But if you made a decision, then you have to bear the consequences. The key is to not stop yourself from doing what you want because you fear failure. Be clear about the consequences, and whether you can accept the worst case scenario. If you can, then go ahead.
At least you tried and failed. Learn from the failure so you fail better next time. Don’t question whether you made the wrong decision. It doesn’t help. However, you can analyse your decision-making process. I do this though a decision-making journal.
I can go in a deep dive about the decision-making journal. I’ll try to be brief. When I make a decision, I note down how I feel, the situation and the problem, and factors that I considered. These include variables, complications, and alternatives that I don’t choose.
In a nutshell, writing these down help me to understand what led me to making the decision, the thought process behind the choice, and any possible emotional or mental factors that influenced the decision. This allows me to review my decisions, learn from them, and make better decisions next time.
Do what you want, while you still can
Kaito’s boss talks to Kaito about the latter choosing to do what he loves:
Everyone… thinks about doing what you’re doing. They think it, but they can’t do it. There’re all kinds of reasons. The future. Family. Most people can’t do it. When you get older, you think maybe you can. But by then, I’m sure you won’t be able to do much.
This quote was rather significant when I was considering leaving my job as a pharmacist. We often fall into the trap of thinking that we would be able to do what we truly want someday. We keep waiting for that someday, until we can no longer do what we want.
It is a reminder that we are all growing old. I hate to use clichés but time waits for no one. Do what you want while you can, before age and obligations stop you from being able to.
This is also a reminder that I am lucky to have been able to take my leap of faith with my close friends and family supporting my decision to take a less conventional path in life.
No effort is wasted
Kaito on his the path he took in life:
In my case, I followed a path that had been laid out for me. My whole life. But I don’t regret that at all. I don’t think it was a waste of time. Because I don’t think any effort in life is wasted.
Growing up, I followed a path laid out for me too. This resonated with me when I watched it after graduating from university.
I have met people who think that they wasted their time doing things that didn’t work out or wasn’t what they truly wanted. I used to think that way too, until I started to connect the dots looking backwards. That was when I realised that every thing in life happens for a reason.
There are times when I question what might have been if I had gone down another path, but I often end up being reminded that whatever I did contributed to who and where I am today
We got to where we are because of the path we took in life. We are who we are because of what we did and experienced in life so far. So no effort in life is wasted.
Find what you love
Kaito on Masaru:
The boss is so cool is because he’s found a life he loves and he’s stuck to it.
Find what you love and pursue it wholeheartedly. People will see the joy and sense of fulfilment you have. It is infectious and inspiring. I’ve been told that I look so much happier after I took my leap of faith to pursue what I love.
Sure, there are struggles. But ups and downs are a part of the process. When you do what you love, there’s that extra skip to your footsteps and a glow of happiness that is noticeable to the people around you.
Realise when you are in a comfort zone
Keiko tells to her daughter Makoto about why she thinks Makoto’s grandfather Masaru is not truly happy:
Because I don’t want to become like Grandpa. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to do anything if I stayed here. I felt like this place could ruin a person.
The way he’s lived his life… I really like it. I never said it was bad. But I don’t think he wanted to become the owner of a minshuku inn. I’m not saying that’s bad either. He may be happy with it. But I really don’t think he wanted to run a minshuku inn.
There must’ve been another reason he chose this place. I think staying in a place like this will make you not care anymore.
Keiko understood that the minshuku (bed and breakfast) inn was a place that could lull people into a kind of comfort that stops them from pursuing what they really want.
It is important to know when you’re in a comfort zone. I would often reflect and ask myself if I’m stagnating. You might be in a comfortable situation, but is it truly what you want? What’s stopping you from going for what you truly want? Life is too short to not chase your dreams.
The difference between fulfilment and comfort is a fine line, but we need to be aware of whether we are truly happy or just comfortable.
Of course, not everyone is after true fulfilment in life. Some people prefer to just find a comfort zone and stay in there. That is totally fine if it is what you want. It’s your prerogative. My point is to make sure that you know the difference and make the decision with that knowledge in mind. You owe it to yourself to not waste your time.
Find your ocean
Masaru tells Hiromi and Kaito to find what they truly love:
This is my ocean. Your oceans are somewhere else.
Sometimes, we find ourselves following other people’s dreams. It is fine to do that for a while to help us find our own direction and purpose. However, it is important to realise that you are swimming in someone else’s ocean.
You won’t find true happiness unless you find your own ocean.
Sometimes, you never really belonged
Hiromi on how he feels after being Masaru tells them to leave:
To be honest, I’d been waiting for him to say that to us. This place is really comfortable and I really do think it’d be the best if I could stay here forever. This is the first place I honestly felt like staying at forever. I’ve never felt like this.
Then, being told it’s almost time to leave… It’s a lonely feeling.
Sometimes you won’t know you’re in a comfort zone. You’re lucky if someone comes along in life to point that out to you. Be thankful for that. And if you see someone else stuck in their comfort zone, let them know too.
It might feel lonely, but there will be people out there who would help you to push yourself. If there isn’t get in touch with me. Let’s push each other to become better.
Only you get to decide what is right
Masaru admits that he lost his way, saying, “I wanted to surf. That’s why I came here to live. But before I knew it, I’d forgotten about the surfing, and became just a guy running a minshuku inn.”
“What’s wrong with that? You’re still really cool, boss,” Hiromi replies.
I’m the only one that decides whether it is all right or not. I was about to become an old man that could only talk about how good he used to be.
Don’t lose sight of your dreams and goal. We might lose our way, but we will get on the path once more if we know what it is we really want.
People might admire you for what you do, even if it is not what you love.
That said, it’s your life, and only you get to decide what makes you truly happy. Find your ikigai.
Seize the opportunity to do what you want to. In most cases, it is never too late to do what you want. Push yourself to do it so you won’t just talk bout how good you were or what you could have been.
Embrace the journey
Kaito tells Hiromi what he learns after taking his leap of faith:
I realised that there were folks in this world that lived like you. It made me really mad and bitter. I felt like you knew something about life that I didn’t. So… I wanted to experience it, too.
To be honest, I was really scared. Because everything would go back to zero. But I can say this now. No matter what happens, I’ll never get scared. I have the confidence now to start from zero anytime now.
A hero is supposed to die or walk away into the sunset to be cool. It’s one or the other. Happily ever after? Stories with a hero don’t end like that.
We fear failure because it means going back to square one. But once you learn to embrace failure, you’ll realise that there is no square one. Even if you go back to zero, you have gained the experience and wisdom from your failure. You are some where above square one.
It is a constant upward spiral. The more you fail and learn, the wiser and smarter you become.
Don’t strive for happily ever after. That’s just chasing the destination. Embrace the journey and savour the experience.
You either fail like the hero that dies, or succeed and walk away cooly in the sunset to star in the next movie, ie the next phase in life or the next project. It is either we make or break. And it is totally fine regardless of whether we make it or flop. Failure is an inevitable process to success. And success is not final. Success is not happily ever after.
We move on to the next thing after we succeed. If we fail, we keep trying until we succeed.
Forever Beach Boys
Frankly, I didn’t expect the article to be so long. There are certain topics that I touched on really briefly. I kept them succinct to focus on the Beach Boys quotes. They are topics that I’ll definitely revisit in future posts, so stay tuned.
I don’t think there are any other films or dramas that have such a profound impact on me. I doubt I would be able to write another 3,000-word essay on what I learnt from another movie or TV series. Then again, I won’t completely rule that out.
Are there any films or dramas that were especially memorable for you? Let me know. I would love to check them out if I haven’t.
Check out my translation of Beach Boys theme song Forever by Takashi Sorimachi.
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