Read me, this post screams!
Two weeks ago, my friend Max, inquired how my training was going. I gently nudged him to read my blog. Upon reading he commented, 'Very Murakami.' Not having read any of Haruki Murakami's works (Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles etc), I was unsure of his writing style. Sussing out Max's comment, I asked, 'Do you like his writing?' Which he responded ' It can be good.' (cryptic, I thought). He then pointed me in the director of 'What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,' a memoir Murakami wrote, as you can guess, about running. (Intriguing, I was now curious.) As a writer himself, I value Max's input, but I was unsure if this comparison was a compliment or not. Maybe it was a simple observation? What is Murakami's style of writing? Must look into this further, I thought.
And further I did. I purchased a copy of the book while at the Brown Bookstore (an university independent bookstore, yes) last weekend when I was visiting a very snowy Providence, Rhode Island. And today, after finishing 'The Things They Carried,' (Side note: read it. Tim O'Brien's storytelling is superb) I picked up Murakami and began, only to put it down 10 pages later so I could draft this post. Granted, I don't know how the book will turn out or what is to come, but while reading these first pages, I felt Murakami had extracted my exact thoughts and feelings about running and life and translated them onto paper. Only he did this in 2008 when the book was written and they are entirely his own feelings. Kindred spirits? I'm getting ahead of myself. In reading said pages, the bonding moment with Haruki Murakami went something like this:
- Murakami writes that he isn't competitive, doesn't really enjoy team sports or feel the need to beat others or lose to them
- Me: That sounds like you
- Murakami writes how long distance running is about endurance, not speed. It's about the miles logged not how fast they are accomplished
- Me: Wow, yes I agree, that sounds like you
- Murakami writes, long distance running fits his character and how he functions, which is why he took it up in the first place
- Me: Yes. Ding ding.
- Murakami writes that long-distance running is about setting a personal challenge and goal
- Me: It is all true. Completely true.
I enjoy running, much like cycling because it tends to be a solitary sport. I could run with a friend but I don't normally. In marathon training a lot of people choose to train with a friend or group, Strength in numbers? But I tend to think that when I make a pact to run with someone else it is too easy to back out of the commitment, say if we're both in agreement that it is too cold out or are too tired. But if I'm running with me, myself and I, then I get a rush of guilt when I back out of running. My commitment is to me and canceling on myself feels like crap. After all, I'm really all I've got.
- Murakami: 'I'm much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself...'
- Me: YEP.
- Murakami: 'In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you use to be.'
- Me: Self-improvement? Challenge accepted. Feeling a sense of accomplishment? Check. Sense of pride? Yes, please.
It was at page 10, mulling over Murakami's words that it hit me. When is his birthday? A quick Google search brought me to Wikipedia.. 'Yes,' reading aloud, 'Just as I suspected, he was born January 12, 1949.' Just like me, Haruki Murakami is a Capricorn. I guess there is something to be said of astrology traits.
Ambitious. Self-disciplined. Driven. Capable of great endurance. (And a loyal friend)