You know, eating's much more important than most people think. There comes a time in your life when you've just got to have something super-delicious. And when you're standing at that crossroads your whole life can change, depending on which one you go into - the good restaurant or the awful one.
Since I'm a novelist I'm the opposite of you - I believe that what's most important is what cannot be measured. I'm not denying your way of thinking, but the greater part of people's lives consist of things that are unmeasurable, and trying to change all these to something measurable is realistically impossible.
For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that's why I've put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I'm no great runner, by any means. I'm at an ordinary "" or perhaps more like mediocre "" level. But that's not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.
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I don't think jealousy has much of a connection with real, objective conditions. Like if you're fortunate you're not jealous, but if life hasn't blessed you, you are jealous. Jealousy doesn't work that way. It's more like a tumor secretly growing inside us that gets bigger and bigger, beyond all reason. Even if you find out it's there, there's nothing you can do to stop it.
When I open them, most of the books have the smell of an earlier time leaking out between the pages - a special odor of the knowledge and emotions that for ages have been calmly resting between the covers. Breathing it in, I glance through a few pages before returning each book to its shelf.
An expectation was there, mixed in with so many other emotions - excitement, resignation, hesitation, confusion, fear - that would well up then wither on the vine. You're optimistic one moment, only to be racked the next by the certainty that it will all fall to pieces. And in the end it does.
She was a keen observer, a precise user of language, sharp-tongued and funny. She could stir your emotions. Yes, really, that's what she was so good at - stirring people's emotions, moving you. And she knew she had this power...I only realized later. At the time, I had no idea what she was doing to me.
The strength I'm looking for isn't the type where you win or lose. I'm not after a wall that'll repel power coming from outside. What I want us the kind of strength to be able to absorb that kind of power, to stand up to it.The strength to quietly endure things - unfairness, misfortunes, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.
There are some things about myself I can't explain to anyone. There are some things I don't understand at all. I can't tell what I think about things or what I'm after. I don't know what my strengths are or what I'm supposed to do about them. But if I start thinking about these things in too much detail the whole thing gets scary. And if I get scared I can only think about myself. I become really self-centered, and without meaning to, I hurt people. So I'm not such a wonderful human being.
And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they're nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we'd be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
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Oshima's silent for a time as he gazes at the forest, eyes narrowed. Birds are flitting from one branch to the next. His hands are clasped behind his head. "I know how you feel," he finally says. "But this is something you have to work out on your own. Nobody can help you. That's what love's all about, Kafka. You're the one having those wonderful feelings, but you have to go it alone as you wander through the dark. Your mind and body have to bear it all. All by yourself.
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They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It's a miracle, a cosmic miracle.
It is however, difficult to make your narratives relative by yourself. A novelists' work is to provide models to make your narratives relative. If you read my novels then you may feel, "I have the same experience as this narrative", or "I have the same idea as this novel". It means that your narrative and mine sympathize, concord and resonate together.
Instead of things I'm good at, it might be faster to list the things I can't do. I can't cook or clean the house. My room's a mess, and I'm always losing things. I love music, but I can't sing a note. I'm clumsy and can barely sew a stitch. My sense of direction is the pits, and I can't tell left from right half the time. When I get angry, I tend to break things. Plates and pencils, alarm clocks. Later on I regret it, but at the time I can't help myself. I have no money in the bank. I'm bashful for no reason, and I have hardly any friends to speak of.
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Then she took my hand and touched it to the wound beside her eye. I caressed the half-inch scar. As I did so, the waves of her consciousness pulsed through my fingertips and into me - a delicate resonance of longing. Probably someone should take this girl in his arms and hold her tight, I thought. Probably someone other than me. Someone qualified to give her something. "Goodbye, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. See you again sometime.
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Sitting on the floor, I'd replay the past in my head. Funny, that's all I did, day after day after day for half a year, and I never tired of it. What I'd been through seemed so vast, with so many facets. Vast, but real, very real, which was why the experience persisted in towering before me, like a monument lit up at night. And the thing was, it was a monument to me.
I'm not good at talking," Naoko said. "Haven't been for the longest while. I start to say something and the wrong words come out. Wrong or sometimes completely backward. I try to go back and correct it, but things get even more complicated and confused, so that I don't even remember what I started to say in the first place. Like I was split into two or something, one half chasing the other. And there's this big pillar in the middle and they go chasing each other around and around it. The other me always latches onto the right word and this me absolutely never catches up
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I can never say what I want to say, it's been like this for a while now. I try to say something but all I get are wrong words - the wrong words or the exact opposite words from what I mean. I try to correct myself, and that only makes it worse. I lose track of what I was trying to say to begin with. It's like I'm split in two and playing tag with myself. One half is chasing this big, fat post. The other me has the right words, but this can't catch her.
In ancient times, people weren't just male or female, but one of three types: male/male, male/female, female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangement and never really gave it much a thought. But then God took a knife and cut everybody in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half.
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So this was how secrets got started, I thought to myself. People constructed them little by little. I had not intended to keep May Kasahara a secret from Kumiko. My relationship with her was not that big a deal, finally: whether I mentioned it or not was of no consequence. Once it had flown down a certain delicate channel, however, it had become cloaked in the opacity of secretiveness, whatever my original "intention" had have been.
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How can the mind be so imperfect?" she says with a smile. I look at my hands. Bathed in the moonlight, they seem like statues, proportioned to no purpose. "It may well be imperfect," I say, "but it leaves traces. And we can follow those traces, like footsteps in the snow." "Where do the lead?" "To oneself," I answer. "That's where the mind is. Without the mind, nothing leads anywhere." I look up. The winter moon is brilliant, over the Town, above the Wall. "Not one thing is your fault," I comfort her.
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I have come to think that life is a far more limited thing than those in the midst of its maelstorm realize. That light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment-perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance. One may have to live the rest of one's life in hopeless depth of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.
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It's just that you're about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality.
Listen. I may not be much, but I'm all I've got. Maybe you need a magnifying glass to find my face in my high school graduation photo. Maybe I haven't got any family or friends. Yes, yes, I know all that. But, strange as it might seem, I'm not entirely dissatisfied with life... I feel pretty much at home with what I am. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want any unicorns behind fences.
It's the same with menus and men and just about anything else: we think we're choosing things for ourselves, but in fact we may not be choosing anything. It could be that everthing's being decided in advance and we pretend we're making choices. Free will may be an illusion. I often think that.
At any rate, that's how I started running. Thirty three""that's how old I was then. Still young enough, though no longer a young man. The age that Jesus Christ died. The age that Scott Fitzgerald started to go downhill. That age may be a kind of crossroads in life. That was the age when I began my life as a runner, and it was my belated, but real, starting point as a novelist.
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In this world, there is no absolute good, no absolute evil," the man said. "Good and evil are not fixed, stable entities, but are continually trading places. A good may be transformed into an evil in the next second. And vice versa. Such was the way of the world that Dostoevsky depicted in The Brothers Karamazov. The most important thing is to maintain the balance between the constantly moving good and evil. If you lean too much in either direction, it becomes difficult to maintain actual morals. Indeed, balance itself is the good.
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Don't you see? You and he might never cross paths again. Of course, a chance meeting could occur, and I hope it happens. I really do, for your sake. But realistically speaking, you have to see there's a huge possibility you'll never be able to meet him again. And even if you do meet, he might already be married to somebody else. He might have two kids. Isn't that so? And in that case, you may have to live the rest of your life alone, never being joined with the one person you love in all the world. Don't you find that scary?
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I didn't start running because somebody asked me to become a runner. Just like I didn't become a novelist because someone asked me to. One day, out of the blue, I wanted to write a novel. And one day, out of the blue, I started to run-simply because I wanted to. I've always done whatever I felt like doing in life. People may try to stop me, and convince me I'm wrong, but I won't change.
Let me just tell you this, Watanabe," said Midori, pressing her cheek against my neck. "I'm a real, live girl, with real, live blood gushing through my veins. You're holding me in your arms and I'm telling you that I love you. I'm ready to do anything you tell me to do. I may be a little bit mad, but I'm a good girl, and honest, and I work hard, I'm kind of cute, I have nice boobs, I'm a good cook, and my father left me a trust fund. I mean, I'm a real bargain, don't you think? If you don't take me, I'll end up going somewhere else.
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You're here," I continued. "At least you look as if you're here. But maybe you aren't. Maybe it's just your shadow. The real you may be someplace else. Or maybe you already disappeared, a long, long time ago. I reach out my hand to see, but you've hidden yourself behind a cloud of probablys. Do you think we can go on like this forever?
In other words, let's face it: Life is basically unfair. But even in a situation that's unfair, I think it's possible to seek out a kind of fairness. Of course, that might take time and effort. And maybe it won't seem to be worth all that. It's up to each individual to decide whether or not it is.
You know what I think?" she says. "That people's memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn't matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They're all just fuel. Advertising fillers in the newspaper, philosophy books, dirty pictures in a magazine, a bundle of ten-thousand-yen bills: when you feed 'em to the fire, they're all just paper.
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You know, they've got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don't like others? And you eat all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don't like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. Now I just have to polish these off, and everything'll be OK. Life is a box of chocolates. I suppose you could call it a philosophy.
I think memory is the most important asset of human beings. It's a kind of fuel; it burns and it warms you. My memory is like a chest: There are so many drawers in that chest, and when I want to be a fifteen-year-old boy, I open up a certain drawer and I find the scenery I saw when I was a boy in Kobe. I can smell the air, and I can touch the ground, and I can see the green of the trees. That's why I want to write a book.
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There was just one moon. That familiar, yellow, solitary moon. The same moon that silently floated over fields of pampas grass, the moon that rose--a gleaming, round saucer--over the calm surface of lakes, that tranquilly beamed down on the rooftops of fast-asleep houses. The same moon that brought the high tide to shore, that softly shone on the fur of animals and enveloped and protected travelers at night. The moon that, as a crescent, shaved slivers from the soul--or, as a new moon, silently bathed the earth in its own loneliness. THAT moon.
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I closed my eyes and listened carefully for the descendants of Sputnik, even now circling the earth, gravity their only tie to the planet. Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep.
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Where the road sloped upward beyond the trees, I sat and looked toward the building where Naoko lived. It was easy to tell which room was hers. All I had to do was find the one window toward the back where a faint light trembled. I focused on that point of light for a long, long time. It made me think of something like the final throb of a soul's dying embers. I wanted to cup my hands over what was left and keep it alive. I went on watching the way Jay Gatsby watched that tiny light on the opposite shore night after night.
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