As a young man, I was prone to take counsel of my passions. That, at least, was how Sensei saw me. More that the lectures at school, I cherished my talks with him. More than the opinions of professors, I valued his insights. In short, more than the distinguished men who instructed me from their lecterns, I held in esteem the reticent and reclusive Sensei.
"You mustn't put me on a pedestal," Sensei once cautioned me.
"My opinion of you is rational and grounded," I answered back in full confidence.
Sensei did not share my conviction. "You've let yourself be carried away. When you see me for what I am, you'll come to despise me. As it is, I bear your respect as a burden. However, what troubles me most is the thought of how you'll change, of how you must change."
"Do you think me so fickle, so untrustworthy?"
"I can't help but pity you."
"You say you pity me, but you also say you can't trust me."
Sensei turned toward the garden, a troubled look on his face. On the camellia bush, which had recently dazzled with brilliant splashes of red, not a single flower remained. Sensei was fond of gazing on this bush from his parlor.
"As far as trust is concerned, I don't distrust you in particular. It's all of humanity whom I distrust."
In that moment a voice, sounding like a goldfish vendor, sounded from beyond the hedge. Other than that, there was not a sound to be heard. The small lane, set back several blocks from the main thoroughfare, was surprisingly quiet. As always, all was still within the house. I knew that Sensei's wife was in the next room. I also knew she could hear my voice as she worked silently at her sewing or other tasks. At the same time, however, I was oblivious to her presence.