At the bottom of the well

In Haruki Murakami’s strange and wonderful book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the main character, Toru, retreats to the bottom of a well after learning that his wife has cheated on him.

When a mischievous neighbour lifts up the ladder, he is left there for three days. In pitch darkness, his mind turns inward. His introspection is complete. There is literally nowhere else to journey but to whatever is at his kernel.

Toru is no great philosopher. Life happens to him, he doesn’t question its vacillations, and he doesn’t strive to understand what is happening to him.

When bad things happen to him though, we sympathise with him. He is uncorrupted. Even after his stay at the bottom of the well, he does not emerge with any great revelations.

Thorughout the book, Murakami raises more questions than he answers. Should we try and shape our own futures? Is a directionless life any less worth living than one directed at a cause?

What, in the end, dictates what happens to us? What is wisdom, and is it real?

And when all is said and done, what does it all matter?

I guess we all have our own wells, and our own answers. But I think Murakami would find that a bit too simplistic.

Toru begins the book by looking for his cat, which has run away. He is still looking for it at the end of the book.

Happiness is . . .

. . . my morning bike ride to work. Cycling in this city is just so good. My morning commute takes me about 20 minutes but half of that is me faffing around taking pictures.

I never get tired of the sights and sounds, it’s such a pleasure. When I think back to sitting in traffic on the A1 or being crushed against the door on the 8.13 to Kings Cross, I thank Christ I decided to come here.

Cycling – it’s why God invented bike paths.

(Picture courtesy of Mikael Colville-Andersen.)

Human kindness

I saw a beautiful thing yesterday.

I was out having a beer and watching some football. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, everyone was a little hungover from St Patrick’s Day. A big Scottish chap everyone knows came in and spoke to a Danish guy at my table.

I could not hear what he said but the Danish guy stood up and gave him a big hug. It turned out that the Scottish chap’s mother had died that morning after a long illness.

Upon hearing this, the other people at my table got up and walked over to him. One by one they gave him a hug, spoke consoling words to him and offered their support.

There was something so beautifully simple about it, I thought.

Afterwards everyone carried on as normal, there was nothing else to do. The swift acknowledgement of someone else’s pain, and then life.

My place in all this

What is my place in all this?

Books, trees, sunlight, puddles of rain. . . together, alone.

What patterns are there? What opportunities, what hopes.

I thought I had some answers, I had none.

Now I can see the blossom on the tree outside my window, a few gulls circling lazily above. Cars pass several stories below.

Wind pushes the clouds hurriedly across the sky, white blots on the blue. I type.

There is dust on my windowsill. This is better than nothing.

Band of Horses nostalgia

Back to 2006, and the lovely summery video to the Band of Horses’ track The Great Salt Lake.

This song is full of memories for me; of a time when I’ve never been happier. Mornings and evenings swimming in sunshine, and contentment, and soft kisses, wine, and bike rides hand in hand . . .

Relay

It’s late, you should be in bed.

Here’s something to listen to as you ponder what it’s all about.

Relay’s MySpace.

Danish hang-ups

Is there a Danish word for spontaneity?

I don’t think so.

Things I can’t do

A button fell off my favourite top the other day, reminding me I can’t sew.

I felt utterly desolate for a while. And then I realised I had other tops.

And that maybe it was time I learnt to sew anyway.

Winterkids

I like the way the lead singer says ‘fings’. It almost makes me homesick. But not quite.