I READ MEN WITHOUT WOMEN by Haruki Murakami

I had read two different stories by him by the time I started reading Men Without Women. Haruki’s stories always took me back to my teenage years. It should not be a surprise since he writes about his own teenage years in his books though his are called fiction, my past had actually had happened. Who knows maybe his fiction is not very fictitious after all.

I was very excited to be reading Men Without Women at first. Every story left me with suspicion of what was to come. Since I only have spare time on my way to work and home from work, those were the only times I could read my books. Every time my stopped was announced, it felt like the story I was reading at the time was screaming, “Finish reading me!”

Now, for some stories I felt so deep down in my spine, I actually missed my stops. Rather, I had to take the train back to my missed stop, which in the end gave me more time to read while waiting for the next train. I never complained. However, some stories made me ask more questions. The one with the snakes for example. I had a dream about it the night I started reading it. I had the second dream when I finished it. Nights followed days, days turned to nights. I finished the book with that one story on a day that I broke up with him. Men Without Women… What a meaningful word order he put them in, combined, wrote and kept writing. You would think it ends there but it does not. Your spine gets tingly, your hands sweaty and your tongue dry. Like a drug addict, you want to read more of his books.

After finishing the last story, I turned to Youtube and Google for some answers. All I could watch was the comments that degraded the author. They made him look very unprofessional and careless about his writing. I have to admit seeing good comments made me very happy. Not all were letting him degraded like that. On the other hand, every bad comment about him made me more furious. I agree that he uses a lot of ancient metaphors at times. However, these books are translated from Japanese. Can we set aside all the “professional writing structures and rules” and feel what he is actually trying to do? After all, by using simple rules he is getting his stories across to millions of people-in which same process he shoots at the center of the heart. Does it not matter at all? I guess it depends on those teenage years one had, how open one’s heart is and whether one looks for beauty or ugly.

Snowboard to Surf? No. Those are just tools to get to your location, freedom.

Surfing?

Have you ever tried surfing? I have not. Sometimes, I think about how it must feel like. Water, salt, sand all over you but you are only focused on being in balance physically on your surfboard. On the other hand, it must taste, feel, smell like freedom to stand on that same surfboard to oversee the sea, sand and the passing people when surfing. Do you ever want to try it? I’d like to.

Is it not a similar feeling to be alive in times like these. There are people who believe to share their lights with others, some steal the lights, some take it and run away, some cannot see it, and some share too much light they end up torn. Balance, I guess is the key, just like surfing. You can only see what is around you once you are on your surfboard to go against the waves, when you are balanced finally.

The realization here however, is not to surf but to “surf”. Surely, it is not something that will just happen to me or you instantly while sleeping in the sound of these strong winds of the East Coast. In fact, it will sure not happen to me when I sleep in my warm bed when the weather in New York drops to 9 degrees. Surfers have red face because of the sun, in New York our faces get red because we almost freeze. It is hard to learn surfing here while almost everyone is feeling “under the weather”. Where did I put my flip flops? I meant my snow boots.

So how can a person take up surfing when they in reality cannot? Easy to answer, hard to digest. They cannot. On the contrary, it does not have to be that way. Take the sand, the sea, the surfboard out of the picture and replace them with snow, snowboard, and the moonlight. There you have a new, awesome sport where you can feel free again. What I mean, metaphorically at least trying to say here is that if, in New York we do not have the privilege to surf, we have alternatives. We can, no matter how still reach to the same stars under the same moon light to smell the liberty of the soul, freedom. As long as we know how to flow we sure will go skiing in a place called, upstate? ~Location is not that important here, so do not pay too much attention to it.~

Life gives you this, give life that. Life gets tough we know. We are always facing decisions. Decisions can be made on paper. Decisions can be made in one’s head. Decisions take place here, then there. Decisions. Decisions. More decisions. It sure gets heavy on us. Decisions everywhere we look. Your phone, his laptop, her outfit, his decisions, their attitude, salary, new opportunities, possibilities, responsibilities. Goddamn these decisions. Where did the light go? This onion is a strong one here. Cut the onion and now, touch your eyes. It was a decision of mine that I wanted to share. Onions and paprika can be killers. Try jalapeno, maybe?

All we have to do is to make small or big, sometimes no decisions. How to make decisions? First, know that you are about to make a decision to surf or snowboard. Secondly, you will face the challenges of the weather, crowd, waves, maybe at times snow angels, but decide from the beginning that you are doing all that to get the taste of freedom. You can’t? Then, try biking. Decide what you want at the end, not how your process will be. After all, all surfers take showers to get rid off the sand, snowboards spread snow on other people and bikers get stuck in traffic. It is all good. Go with the flow to feel the breeze of that free, salty, sweet self of you.

Snowboarding? I have never tried it before. Just joking.