What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Are you running away or running towards? Do you get the difference between growing up and getting ahead?

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Read about Kerala hosting an athletics meet for transgender persons. This is like the only reading I have done in a bit. The article. That is it. This is it. The Murakami shit I read a week back. Need to calm the fuck down so that I can read peacefully again. Need to be cool. Also, I hate that word now. Cool. Ugh. Fuck you, I will be whatever I want, okay?

Except fuck me because college is over and I have no job and am living with my parents. But it’s going to be okay. Okay? I keep telling myself that.

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I remember the documentary I watched in Goethe-Institut (which recently had a sale, and I ended up buying a German book of poetry except I don’t know German [I want to learn that shiz, apparently the A1 classes start from July, and comma splices are like my new thang, cue eye rolls please] but love buying books and it was cheap af so it is super chill) called I am Bonnie. It was pretty fucking cool.

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Have been listening to Ankur Tewari and Prateek Kuhad. Heard about them when someone I know was supposed to go for one of their gigs in Bombay or something. She ended up not going.

खो जाने की ज़िद ना करो ख्वाइश है ये दिल की

This lyric is taken from Tum Jab Paas and tbh it summarizes my condition perfectly. It’s almost as if parts of me want to get lost, other parts already are and whatever is left in the fringes, yearns for the familiar, so as to not fall off the edge. I want the newness my now promises and am repulsed by the idea of being the same, of remaining. I want to be better and I want to be more. I want to be more. But at the same time, there are these waves of absolute exhaustion, of disappointment, frustration. I’m irritated. The novelty of my problems have all worn off. They need to be dealt with in small steps—in boring systematic ways. How can I still not know? I feel incapable when the tide is high. What do I want even? What can I do? What am I supposed to want? How is Ghibli pronounced? What the fuck is Aéropostale and why is it a big deal if I haven’t heard of it? and I become absolutely mental on social media and do not know how others can be. . . So, then, the idea of being lost is enticing, and that of thriving in the wild, even more so. Except that shit gets tiring. Actually, it’s the worrying that gets me. Now I think things will work out, because they have to. There simply has to be a way out. There is no other option. At least that’s what I keep telling myself and it’s kinda like working.

But I’m done being lost. I don’t know where I might be going but I think I got my ways sorted. And for now, that’s all I need ( हैशटैग यह दिल मांगे मोर!)

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After reading, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, I thought it would be a great idea to get back into running and stuff, except two days in and I realized my year old injury still hasn’t healed. Great.

Anyways, the book was first published, I think, by Knopf in 2008 and is translated by Philip Gabriel (who also translated 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore and lots of other stuff). So this book is about en d  u   r    a     nce and r                                                                            unninand sports and not giving up, it’s about Murakami, his life and his routine, his philosophies and his relationship with running. It makes for a decent read and is divided into nine chapters. The following are quotes randomly selected from each of them. They aren’t the best or the most interesting or the most thought provoking, they aren’t the most anything but are a part of the whole.

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Foreword: Suffering Is Optional

Instead, this is a book in which I’ve gathered my thoughts about what running has meant to me as a person. Just a book in which I ponder various things and think out loud. Somerset Maugham once wrote that in each shave lies a philosophy . . . I couldn’t agree more. No matter how mundane some action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act.

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One: Who’s Going to Laugh at Mick Jagger?

I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void . . . The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky . . . The sky both exists and doesn’t exist. It has substance and at the same time doesn’t. And we merely accept that vast expanse and drink it in.

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Two: Tips on Becoming a Running Novelist

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I first thought I could write a novel. It was around one thirty in the afternoon of April 1, 1978. I was at Jingu Stadium that day, alone in the outfield drinking beer and watching the game. Jingu Stadium was within walking distance of my apartment at the time, and I was a fairly big Yakult Swallows fan. It was a perfectly beautiful spring day, not a cloud in the sky, with a warm breeze blowing. There weren’t any benches in the outfield seating back then, just a grassy slope. I was lying on the grass, sipping cold beer, gazing up occasionally at the sky, and leisurely enjoying the game. As usual for the Swallows, the stadium wasn’t very crowded. It was the season opener, and they were taking on the Hiroshima Carp at home. I remember that Yasuda was pitching for the Swallows. He was a short, stocky sort of pitcher with a wicked curve. He easily retired the side in the top of the first inning, and in the bottom of the inning the leadoff batter for the Swallows was Dave Hilton, a young American player new to the team. Hilton got a hit down the left field line. The crack of bat meeting ball right on the sweet spot echoed through the stadium. Hilton easily rounded first and pulled up to second. And it was at that exact moment that a thought struck me: You know what? I could try writing a novel.

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Three: Athens in Midsummer—Running 26.2 Miles for the First Time

Other runners kept passing me, but I limped on, grimacing in pain. The numbers on my digital watch kept mercilessly ticking away . . . There are three reasons I failed. Not enough training. Not enough training. And not enough training.

Four: Most of What I Know About Writing Fiction I Learned by Running Every Day

In other words, my muscles are the type that need a long time to warm up . . . And I feel that this type of muscle is connected to the way my mind works. What I mean is, a person’s mind is controlled by his body, right? Or is it the opposite—the way your mind works influences the structure of the body? Or do the body and mind closely influence each other and act on each other? What I do know is that people have certain inborn tendencies, and whether a person likes them or not, they’re inescapable. Tendencies can be adjusted, to a degree, but their essence can never be changed.

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Five: Even If I Had a Long Ponytail Back Then

Looking back at my running log, I think I’ve been able to prepare for the race at a decent pace:

June 156 miles

July 186 miles

August 217 miles

September 186 miles

The log forms a nice pyramid. The weekly distance averages out in June to thirty-six miles, then forty-three miles, then fifty, then back to forty-three. I expect that October will be about the same as June, roughly thirty-six miles per week.

I also bought some new Mizuno running shoes. At City Sports in Cambridge I tried on all kinds of models, but ended up buying the same Mizunos I’ve been practicing in . . . Once when I had a chance to talk with a sales rep from Mizuno, he admitted, “Our shoes are kind of plain and don’t stand out. We stand by our quality, but they aren’t that attractive.” I know what he’s trying to say. They have no gimmicks, no sense of style, no catchy slogan.

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Six: Nobody Pounded the Table Anymore, Nobody Threw Their Cups

I’m not a human. I’m a piece of machinery. I don’t need to feel a thing. Just forge on ahead.

I repeat this like a mantra. A literal, mechanical repetition. And I try hard to reduce the perceptible world to the narrowest parameters. All I can see is the ground three yards ahead, nothing beyond. My whole world consists of the ground three yards ahead. No need to think beyond that.

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Seven: Autumn in New York

Long story short: my knee seems to have settled down, which is definitely good news. I’m going to try to be optimistic about things.

Eight: 18 Till I Die

But in real life things don’t go so smoothly.

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Nine: At Least He Never Walked Afterword: On Roads All Round the World

At 9:56 the start siren goes off, and everyone immediately begins the crawl. This is it—the most nerve-racking moment of all.

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