“I think of myself as a kind of engineer. I don’t think of myself as an artist…. That would be easier for me to think of it this way.” – Haruki Murakami at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
One of the things reading Haruki Murakami novels taught me and is still teaching me is to see myself as ordinary. Even now, occasionally, I think of myself as special. I am not so special.
Some people have described me as self-deprecating. This is closer to the truth: I sometimes do good work, sometimes bad; I am too often hypocritical, biased, inconsistent and self-centered. I am too often an asshole.
When I started reading Murakami, I was thinking a lot about mental health. I wasn’t depressed but I thought I could be. People are difficult, life can be “difficult” even when you have food on the table and a roof over your head.
I had always been interested in the truth. It’s elusive I know but falsehoods are easier to figure out. And by eliminating falsehoods, one can reach closer to the truth. These are falsehoods – I am unbiased, I am good, I always try my best, I am hardworking, I am clever.
While extraordinary things happen to Murakami’s characters, the protagonists in his novels are ordinary people. They may have obsessions but they live simple and quiet lives and do not have an inflated opinion about themselves.
That is my desire.
At the book festival, Murakami also said that if he sees himself as an artist, “that would be too heavy”.
I desire that lightness – in my slides, my writing, my traveling, my affiliations, my emotions. Sometimes I ask myself if I am aiming too low. I leave the question unresolved. Tension is good if you manage to not let it destroy you. Recognising that I am weak, that I am scared is lightness.
It’s easier for me to think this way.