Hayao Miyazaki on His Life’s Work


Hayao Miyazahi on His Life’s Work

All that work you’re doing on your company, your reputation, your skills, maybe it all comes to a moment like this.

You’re 72, you just finished a project that took you two and a half years of constant, steady work, you’re on the garden roof of a building your company designed, where you’ve spent the majority of your life for the past 20 years, and you can sense how pointless it is to imagine it all somehow staying together.

“It’s just a name” you say with equal parts broken-heart and indifferent wisdom.

And then you get distracted by a perfect moment of sunlight and leaves.


This was from a documentary on Studio Ghibli called The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. If you’ve loved Miyazaki worlds like Totoro and Spirited Away you’ll love this film.

This scene struck hard. He’s lived the way I find myself dreaming about and here he is at the end and he’s just as full of dissatisfaction, sorrow, creativity and expectation.

I said this to my friend who was stressing over having kids or not: “In the end everybody loses. It’s not like some people win and others lose. Everyone loses. Nobody wins in the end. This being so, what kind of adventure do you want to have? For myself (and I didn’t know this at the time), my son is the best adventure I’ve found. Nothing else in my life is as dangerous or joyful or exhausting, nothing else — no movie, company or creation — elicits the depth of feeling from within me that my sons have.”

The kid stuff is my story. Regardless of where you land on that, the first bit is true: you’re going to lose in the end and you won’t be able to take anything with you. You could build the best goddam company and bring more magic to people than any of your contemporaries… and you’ll still stand somewhere at the end recognizing that whether it persists or falls apart won’t be up to you. And then the wind will brush your hair and face and you’ll get distracted by something beautiful regardless.

This being so, what kind of adventure do you want to have?