How to Live Beautifully 如何永葆青春
In my newspaper column some months ago, I reprinted a short essay on youth by Samuel Ullman, an author unknown to me. Then I got a call from Ullman's great-grandson, Richard Ullman Rosenfield, a psychologist. He told me that he had been intrigued with the "spiritual journey" of the essay, especially in Japan.
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, I learned, often quoted Ullman's "Youth" essay and kept a framed copy over his desk throughout the Pacific campaign. It's believed that the Japanese picked up the work from his Tokyo headquarters.
Unlikely as it may sound, this essay, written more than 70 years ago, is the underpinning of much Japanese productivity and the basis of many businessmen's life philosophies. Many carry creased copies in their wallets.
"Anyone worth his salt in Japanese business knows and uses this essay," says one longtime Japan observer, "It is our Popeye's spinach," said Tatsuro Ishida, who was deputy chairman of Fujisankei Communications Group.
"It touches me at the core of my heart," says Kokichi Hagiwara, the 67-year-old chairman of Japanese/American-owned National Steel in Pittsburgh. "This kind of enthusiasm is indispensable, We must have the spirit of youth to make change."
Some Japanese leaders see the essay as a bridge between the two cultures, If Westerners can understand Japanese reverence for it, maybe they can better understand the Japanese businessman's quest for spiritual sustenance in the midst of material abundance.
When one of Ullman's grandsons, Jonas Rosenfield, Jr., was having dinner in Japan a few years ago, "Youth" came up in conversation, Rosenfield told his dinner companion, a Japanese business leader, that the author was his grandfather. The news was staggering.
"'You are the grandson of Samuel Ullman?' he kept repeating," says Rosenfield, head of the American Film Marketing Association. "He couldn't get over it."
Then the executive pulled a copy of "Youth" from his pocket and told Rosenfield, "I carry it with me always."
Three years ago, several hundred top businessmen and government leaders gathered in Tokyo and Osaka to celebrate their admiration of Ullman's essay. Testimonials abounded, including one from Konosuke Matsushita, founder of the Panasonic Company, who said "Youth" has been his motto for 20 years.
Someone asked, "Why don't Americans love the essay as much as we do? It sends a message about how to live beautifully to men and women, old and young alike."
Samuel Ullman was born in 1840 in Germany and came to American as a boy. He fought in the U.S, Civil War and settled in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a hardware merchant with a penchant for public service that continues 67 years after his death, In the last few years more than $36,000 from Japanese royalties on a book and a cassette reading of his work has gone to a University of Alabama at Birmingham scholarship fund, Not bad for a man who started writing in his 70s.
如 何 永 葆 青 春
华智 宇铭 译