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Books That Have Inspired Us 


Book: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Yukiko Hattori remembers her discovery of this book as a school girl and shares what reading it meant to her.


Life's Small Moments Can Be Eventful

Yukiko Hattori from Japan

One winter morning, a water pipe in our junior high school building burst because of cold. Arriving at school on that day, we found our classroom flooded with all the desks dripping with water. We began fishing out things from there, but soon we were told to


Our flooded classroom

We found our classroom flooded with all the desks dripping with water.

go and use the music room until everything would get dry and clean.

For the following several days, surrounded by angry-looking portraits of the world's greatest composers, we took classes, sitting around an old piano.

Though the teachers were complaining about damp maps and workbooks rescued from the flood, we students were happily excited about this unexpected situation.

It was there, on the piano, that I found a tattered copy of Daddy Long Legs someone had left. Along with funny illustrations, some words of Judy, a girl in the book, caught my attention. "Life is monotonous enough at best...but imagine how deadly monotonous enough at best it would be if nothing unexpected could happen between meals." "Everybody likes a few surprises."

I thought I knew exactly what she was talking about and instantly counted her as my friend. Her school life itself, which consisted of exams, assignments, games, parties and vacations, however, seemed jus like anybody else's. I wondered what it was that made the book so attractive to its readers if her life was not particularly unusual and what her "surprises" really meant.

Soon we moved back to our regular classroom, but the good feelings we had had during our surprise-time still remained with us for a while. Gradually, I began to feel that surprises can be happy additions to your daily life only when the daily life is a stable and solid one. What Judy really dreamed of in her tough orphanage days was not the arrival of Prince Charming, but a perfectly ordinary life that the majority of people take for granted. When she is finally given it by her unknown benefactor, Daddy Long Legs, she can appreciate its very ordinariness which others may get bored by or overlook.

"I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now,'" she writes. "I'm going to enjoy every second, and I'm going to know I'm enjoying it while I'm enjoying it."

Life is monotonous. Yes. Even if, by chance, you had a quite eventful and adventurous life, then you could not have any surprises anymore. Therefore, it would be equally monotonous. If you were always trying to reach some faraway goal, then you would have neither time nor peace of mind to enjoy the process. So, surprises would have no meaning to you. But, if you try to enjoy every moment of your simple life, like Judy, with the help of your imagination, you will discover small surprises to smile at here and there in your life itself.

The original thrill still comes back to me whenever I recall my old memory of the school flood. Since then, I have enjoyed sountless small surprises in my ordinary life, thanks to Judy. The book ends with "Yours, forever and ever, Judy." Isn't it nice to feel she will always be "yours?"


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