I’m about a third of a way through the 27-hour audio version Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicles.

Murakami is the first fiction author whose books I’ve read more than one of – this is my third (following Kafka on the Shore & Norwegian Wood).

I’m finding this one as involving as the previous two, and I’m wondering, is it now reaching that point where it start to teach me whatever it is I need to learn from it?

If I think of Kafka working in the library, I’m back there on the carpeted floor of the Mongolian Yurt on day two of my stay last summer- thankfully not being skinned alive (not the most relaxing bedtime story. I could hardly bear to listen to it). If I move on a bit to Hoshino trying to open the stone I’m bumping along on that 9-hour car journey back to the capital, Ulaanbatar. I almost feel like I wouldn’t have survived that journey without sharing in Nakata’s own journey.

Norwegian Wood (which sees me clearing the path on the Welsh Garden Project site) led me, I realised afterwards, to finally come to understand an old Japanese friend of mine. I’d lost contact with her, abruptly, and I never figured out why. When listening to Norwegian Wood, she popped into my head once or twice, and i recognised her in the characters portrayed. It felt good to have closure on that.

As I listen to Toru tell the story of his marriage to Kumiko, I can’t help but think of my own marriage. It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot in any case, as is only natural. What does it actually mean to me? This feeling of responsibility it contains – is that coming from within me, I mean really within me, or is it more a product of outside influence?

How will our life differ this time from last time we lived together? Then, I was a student, on a temporary stay. This time it will be very different. There will be an element of …permanentness.

How will this affect my attitude towards life in general? In a way I have had it easy for the past 8 years. Ever since I split up with my ex in fact, and left Torquay for Switzerland. But even then,despite the fact that we’d bought a house together, deep down we knew that it was only temporary. Since then, I’ve lived knowing that even if I made absolutely no effort at instigating change myself, my life would change in a big way anyway, all by itself, within a maximum of 12 months.

Switzerland: I was on seasonal contracts.
Japan: My visa would expire
Bristol (UK): My Access course would come to an end
Sheffield: I would graduate

And now, as of August 2008, I will not have this safety net of prescribed change. If I want things to happen in my life, it will be entirely up to me. If I let myself drift along (as is only to easy to do), I may be happy in the short term, I will get things done, change will occur …but I’ll feel somehow unfulfilled. I don’t think I’m the kind of person cut out for that. Many people are, and that’s great, I’m not knocking them for that, but I feel like I am so absolutely packed full of energy just bursting to be channelled into ‘stuff’ that I’d be stifled by having no prospect of guaranteed change or progression.

In a way, this is another reason why i want the CIR job in Japan. With an annual contract (renewable up to 5 years) there’s that time limit. It would push me to make the most of today, every day, and never put off trying to realise dreams for some tomorrow that will never come.

I sometimes wonder where this excitement has come from. Did I always have it? According to my beliefs, yes, I did. I have always been a little hyper; “OTT” was how I was described to my parents by my teacher as a teenager (I felt terrible about that at the time, like I’d really let them al down).


I hope to get a reply from the embassy this coming week. It’s nearing a month since everyone else was informed. I can only assume that my application is continuing to give them grief due to my request to be near *Twinkle*. In a way though, I feel the longer I wait, the better the chances that this will all work out for the best.

It feels a bit like sitting in the bottom of a well though, waiting for a line to be cast down. It’s not a well of doom and despair, just a well of contemplation and nervous tension, wondering what the view is going to be like when I get out.

Ho hum. Start of a brand new week in the morning.

2 Responses

  1. External change (work, moving) is only relevant insofar as it encourages and facilitates internal change. As long as you are being challenged or growing as a person, it doesn’t matter if you spend a decade or two in the same place doing the same thing. In fact, sometimes it takes a calm, settled, and perhaps even boring job to help make certain internal adjustments as not having to invest all your energy externally instigates certain lines of psychological development.

    You shouldn’t concern yourself too much with deadlines or external motivators and keep focused on your mental and psychological growth. When those things have slowed too much or halted, then you need to look to those things which may be inhibiting you externally and seek change.

    Many people use external change as a way of distracting themselves from internal issues. Focus on enriching yourself spiritually and the decisions for when and how to make external changes will fall into place.

    As for your marriage, there is where you’ll find the greatest challenges psychologically. Any close, committed, and highly-valued relationship is going to really keep you motivated to be a better person in all ways. It’ll be great for you and you are more than up to and ready emotionally for the challenge. With two people who are good matches for one another on many levels, marriage is the most exciting and wonderful experience one can have.

  2. Thanks for your comment Shari.

    I was thinking about your comment as I listened to the stories of several of Murakami’s characters spending time at the bottom of dry wells, where there was virtually nothing in terms of external change, but a great deal happening internally. Obviously, they’re extreme examples, but highlight what you say about how sometimes stillness is more productive when it comes to internal changes.

    If I think back on this year in Sheffield, I have made little time for continuing my studies of various people’s takes on spirituality, due to being ‘too busy’ with other stuff. This year has been incredibly rewarding, but I appreciate that a lot of that is thanks to quieter times spent last year.