I have read several short stories that Haruki Murakami has written for The New Yorker and a couple of his books—those that I could make sense of anyway for most of novels are highly allegorical. His latest book that was excerpted in a recent New Yorker is called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, (with permission of Raymond
I have been a runner for much of my adult life and while I don’t run as long or as intensely as Murakami does, many of his musings about running struck a responsive chord. They also illustrated how much one learns from the experience of running--responding to pain, competitive pressures, and in Murakami’s case, writing itself. In the largest sense running is a laboratory for learning.
I made note of a number of passages in his volume, especially those that describe an experience I have had while running or in between runs. Indeed, a shared experience or idea is often characterizes the passages I make note of in the books I read. Here are a few from the Murakami volume:
I can't grasp much of anything without putting my thoughts in writing, so I had to actually get my hands working and write these words. Otherwise, I'd never know what running means to me.
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Sometimes when I think of Life, I feel like a piece of driftwood washed up on the shore.
…beating somebody else just doesn't do it for me. I'm much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long-distance running is the perfect fit for a mindset like mine.
I'm the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I'm the type of person who doesn't find it painful to be alone.
Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent.
The happiest thing about becoming a professional writer was that I could go to bed early and get up early.
…what's the next most important quality is for a novelist, that's easy too: focus.
As I run in the morning along the river I often see the same people at the same time.
I can try all I want, but I doubt I'll ever be able to run the way I used to. I'm ready to accept that. It's not one of your happier realities, but that's what happens when you get older.
…this memory of so long ago suddenly comes back to me.