“Why are you still here, Toshiya?”
Toshi looked up, startled out of his reverie by his grandfather’s sharp question.
“What do you mean, Grandfather?” he stammered. “Where else should I be? I have no plans to go anywhere today...”
“No, that is not what I mean.” Sato Zenzou lowered himself carefully to the floor, and faced Toshi squarely. With a wave of his hand he indicated the newspapers that lay strewn about on the floor.
“You read about your friend Goro-kun in the newspapers, you watch his games on the television, you follow the news of all things America -- why do you not go there?”
Toshi’s eyes widened in surprise.
“America? Why would I want to go there? I mean... Well, it interests me, of course -- I visited there, after all, when I traveled with the All Star team and later took part in the World Cup. It is an interesting place! And of course I wish to keep up with American baseball -- the teams, the games, Goro-kun and the Hornets; even after all this time, he is still pursuing his dream with everything he has in him. But so am I, Grandfather. I have everything I want here -- a successful career playing for a team renowned throughout Japan, the ability to care for you and Grandmother in the home that I love, with my sister Miho visiting when she can. Nothing is lacking, why should I want to leave all this, and you, to go to America?”
“Nothing is lacking? Then you truly have no wish to play baseball in America, no wish to pit your strength against Goro-kun once more -- or even to join your strength with his on the same team? Have you achieved all your dreams and believe there is nothing left but to enjoy them? Is that what you told the men who came from America to scout you?”
Toshi sighed, then smiled at his grandfather.
“I should have known I could not keep such visits secret from you.”
“Why should you?” his grandfather retorted. “Did you think we would try to stop you from going if we knew of them?”
“But... but I am not thinking of going...” Toshi stammered.
“Perhaps not,” the elder Sato replied with a sigh. “But not thinking of going and not wanting to go are not the same thing. Do you truly not want to go to America to play against new challenges and new, strong players? Do you have no other dream than the ones that are fulfilled now?”
“No, of course not! I am content to be here...”
“Truly? You have no wish to follow your teammate Mayumura?”
Toshi shook his head. “Mayumura has always had the goal to play in the Majors, after attaining all there was to achieve here in Japan. When the time came, he went. But that is was never my goal; I have what I want...”
“Yes, that is what you said. You have achieved your dream and you are content. But are you happy, Toshi?”
Toshi was silent for many long moments, and when at last his answer came, his voice was uncertain.
“I ... do not know, Grandfather. I am indeed content. Is that not enough?”
“No!” His grandfather shook his head vehemently. “It is not -- not if being content makes you unhappy! Being content is not for young men like you -- it is for the old, whose dreams have been achieved by their hard work and by the hard work of their children or their children’s children. It is for the old to watch with contentment as their young ones go out into the world and dream big dreams until they achieve them, and then dream new dreams to be achieved. It is time for you to start dreaming new dreams, Toshiya. Perhaps to even go out into the world to follow those dreams!”
Toshi stared at his grandfather in growing wonder. Zenzou returned his gaze with a calm smile, but then suddenly, his face changed and his look turned accusing.
“Toshiya!” he cried. “You did not tell those men you could not go to America because you must stay to care for your elderly grandparents, did you?”
“Well, I... well, no... Not in so many words...”
The old man sighed heavily and shook his head in despair.
“Toshiya, do I seem so old to you, that I cannot care for myself? Do I not still keep the shop? Does your grandmother not still do all her own work in the house and cook all our meals? Am I not still healthy and strong, as befits my name, Ken? You have done so much to make our lives easier in our elder years, but it will not make us happy if you waste your youth and your dreams waiting on us while we can still do things for ourselves.”
“So, are you telling me that you think I should go to America?”
“I am telling you that you should not make decisions concerning your own happiness based upon my age and the age of your grandmother. That would make us unhappy, if you did that! You will not do that, will you, Toshiya?”
Toshi looked at his grandfather fondly, shaking his head in agreement.
“No, I will not do that.”
“Then you will join Goro-kun in America and dream new dreams with him?” his grandfather cried, leaning forward eagerly.
Toshi laughed at the bright light of anticipation on his grandfather’s face.
“Dream new dreams with Goro-kun?” he mused. “Perhaps... I will think about it, Grandfather. I will think about it...”