Dear Wigleaf,

I'm here at the lake, in the house my parents rent, with the wind blowing the leaves from the trees out the window. I don't speak Japanese, but I've seen a lot of anime, and I've read a lot of manga, and there's this word that comes up a lot: ganbatte. It's generally translated as "do your best." Someone is about to step onto a stage, someone is about to enter a tournament hall, and a friend whispers or calls out, "Ganbatte!" The English equivalent is "good luck," of course, but that isn't actually equivalent. In one version, you step out onto the stage, and whatever happens to you next is a matter of luck. You succeed or you fail because of chance, because of destiny, because of fortunate timing or family curses or a sudden turn in the weather. In the other version, you step out onto the stage, and what happens next is up to you. You decide whether to try your hardest, and if you do, then it doesn't matter whether you succeed or you fail. You did your best. That's all anyone has ever asked of you.

I've been failing a lot lately, to tell you the truth.


Matthew Baker

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Read MB's story.

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