Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World - by Haruki Murakami

On the whole, I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience-sake view of prevailing world conditions, events, existence in general. Not that I'm such a blasé, convenience-sake sort of guy--although I do have tendencies in that direction--but because more often than not I've observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things.

I had my digital alarm clock set to an alternating one-hour–thirty-minutes–one-hour–thirty-minutes cycle by which I worked and rested, worked and rested. The clock face was covered over so I couldn't read it. Time gets in the way of tabulations. Whatever the time was now, it had no bearing on my work. My work begins when I start tabulating and it ends when I stop. The only time I need to know about is the one-hour–thirty-minutes–one-hour–thirty-minutes cycle.

You are caught between all that was and all that must be. You feel lost.

Were the stars out when I left the house last evening? All I could remember was the couple in the Skyline listening to Duran Duran. Stars? Who remembers stars? Come to think of it, had I even looked up at the sky recently? Had the stars been wiped out of the sky three months ago, I wouldn't have known. The only things I noticed were silver bracelets on women's wrists and popsicle sticks in potted rubber plants. There had to be something wrong with my life. I should have been born a Yugoslavian shepherd who looked up at the Big Dipper every night. No car, no car stereo, no silver bracelets, no shuffling, no dark blue tweed suits.

Even if I had my life to live over again, I couldn't imagine not doing things the same. After all, everything--this life I was losing--was me. And I couldn't be any other self but my self. Could I? Once, when I was younger, I thought I could be someone else. I'd move to Casablanca, open a bar, and I'd meet Ingrid Bergman. Or more realistically--whether actually more realistic or not--I'd tune in on a better life, something more suited to my true self. Toward that end, I had to undergo training. I read The Greening of America, and I saw Easy Rider three times. But like a boat with a twisted rudder, I kept coming back to the same place. I wasn't going anywhere. I was myself, waiting on the shore for me to return. Was that so depressing? Who knows? Maybe that was "despair". What Turgenev called "disillusionment". Or Dostoyevsky, "hell". Or Somerset Maugham, "reality". Whatever the label, I figured it was me.