Those who know me, or pay any attention, often find me hiding in public. It’s a habit I detest. It may briefly give me an incredibly clever view of myself, but I would much prefer to be out, open and honest about my actions, my health, my relationships. But often I do things to spare the feelings of others, or to avoid consequences I find inconvenient, or simply because I don’t want to hear from most people; there are few things as distasteful as unsolicited advice.
Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back. That’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads – at least that’s where I imagine it – there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.
But a storm is coming, and everything will need to change. When I finally looked in the mirror and admitted that I am an artist, everything else fell out of the cupboard. It was as much an admission of failure as it was a relief. But with it I got to know myself, the parts I have supressed since February 1988. I have tried to push it back in… shoulder to the door, feet firmly planted against the grainy floor… but the beast has taken up residence inside me, making manifest what I did not want to feel or see.
And so the storm has followed me…
Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.
And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
Wish me luck in the coming year. It’s about finding what is left of me, and what is best for me.
But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.
Thank you, Haruki Murakami.