"Ten minutes, please," said a woman on the other end.
I'm good at recognizing people's voices, but this was not one I knew.
"Excuse me? To whom do you wish to speak?"
"To you, of course. Ten minutes, please. That's all we need to understand each other." Her voice was low and soft, but otherwise nondescript.
"Understand each other?"
"Each other's feelings."
-- The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami.
It begins with a telephone call. It always does.
I reread this conversation excerpt over and over again, and I am hooked; drawn to that woman on the other end -- this magical, seemingly ethereal woman -- who is crazy enough to say with conviction how a stranger and her could possibly understand each other's feelings in ten minutes. On the phone.
It's illogical. Preposterous. Ridiculous. Absolute fiction.
But it does make you wonder, doesn't it?
How many lines did this nondescript woman speak? 2? 3? So little, and already, I feel that ridiculous, intangible connection that I usually do when I take a liking or interest in the fictional characters I read or watch about. Usually, it takes me two to three chapter to get me to like a character. So I'm quite struck in how I'm hooked after 2 - 3 lines. I feel that connection. I feel that sense of relation, a sudden depth of understanding. Is this Murakami's way of making a point?
Or maybe I just have too much time to spare and I'm doing that thing where I'm overthinking like mad again.
His point seems to be something akin to this: It doesn't need to take 2 to 3 chapters to get to understand someone or feel that connection. You don't have to spend an eternity, bidding time, just trying to understand someone. You will simply because you just do. Perhaps, he was discerning the difference between knowing and understanding, two very different words -- one bringing more safety and tranquility over the other. You can spend years and years just trying to get to know someone, but never really, understand them.
It only takes ten full minutes to complete the transaction of this deep connection. No more, no less. Cut it out any shorter, and perhaps, a fragment of a chance is lost forever.
I'd like to believe that people usually cut off the transaction even before a minute has been passed. Every individual builds several walls to protect themselves from any outer force, most especially strangers with seemingly capable empath or mind-reading powers. To be understood means to have an outer force go a little deeper than you'd like them to; to see a side of yourself that you'd rather not show on to others. But they do. Or they will. Or they are quite getting right to it. And you don't like that. You don't like the idea of having a stranger, no less, break down the foundations you've worked so hard to build.
Hence, we stick to the ultimate shield: reason.
It's so much easier to brush quite a radical notion as that nondescript woman's. I mean, it isn't logical. Tish-tosh. It doesn't make sense. Or does it? As humans, we'd rather not let it make sense because it only means one thing: you're about to get caught, someone's about to go right through those walls you've built and you have no clue how to handle it.
So you cut of the ten minutes.
So over the course of three weeks, this thing called "life" happened and I've been, time and time again, astounded by the turn of every event. And how I'm handling it right now.
I sincerely feel lighter, weightless -- as if I just want to bound across the street, run to the ends of this avenue or just dance and twirl -- and I don't really understand this reaction. I feel empty, but in a good way. The shadow is finally passing and weight is lifted from my shoulder. This burden-less feeling is so surreal (probably because I've been carrying such weight for the longest time now), I've barely a clue on how to begin dissecting any of it.
So I won't.
Instead, I will concentrate on the thoughts that flutter in and out of my head. Because, sure. I am free now from heavy ill-feelings and dark shadows and such. But amongst all this, lessons have been made, cathartic experiences have gone through, and of course, those linger -- those lessons trying to make sense in my thoughts. And while, my heart and mind believe that everything that has been uttered are just another pound of bullshit and excuses, all that has happened gives incredible insight relatable to the excerpt I am writing about now -- about how frightening it is for someone to experience going out of themselves, doing the illogical and then, while at it, having an outside source get a glimpse and inside view of one's vulnerabilities and other elements. It is quite maddening -- seemingly unfair as well, especially if one is protective of oneself.
How can you just let go of years of reason and foundation building? Why would you want to let go of certainty and precision for something that is most likely dangerous and unsure?
No matter how much conviction that nondescript woman on the other end of the receiver has, she will lose because the man will put the phone down and let reason take hold.
It is ridiculous, but it is not. You are just afraid and unwilling.
"Ten minutes maybe longer than you think," she said.
"Are you sure you know me?"
"Of course I do. We've met hundreds of times."
"Somewhere, sometime," she said. "But if I went into that, then ten minutes would never be enough. What's important is the time we have now. The present. Don't you agree?"
"Maybe. But I'd like some proof that you know me."
-- Haruki Murakami
See the difference between faith and reason, written so deftly on the lines? Gives you something to think about.
Lately, I've been training myself on how to be alone again. And be okay with that.
At first, it was stinging and it saddened me immensely. But now, I strangely do not feel a thing about it. I have no rage, no sentiment about it any longer. Sometimes, I am even comforted in my solitude. I don't do much, but I quiet down and I like that. This feeling of calmness and silence has been rare in these past erratic months of struggle. Now, I am basked in the abundance of it. I am beyond grateful.
Once, I danced in a concert that celebrated the theme of 'solitude' with the key line: "There is solitude in being alone."
I thought I knew what it meant back then, but again, tonight's lesson is the difference between knowing and understanding. It is only now that I genuinely begin understand that line our old dance mentor tried to embed in our brains. It's a kind of acceptance so tranquil and so resilient, you might not even feel a thing -- so much so that you have to question yourself, your surroundings, do continuous checks on yourself and such. But the answer remains the same: You are comforted and basked in this tranquility, this understanding and this solitude. After being ripped apart, and ripping yourself apart and all those other struggles, you get there -- this feeling. I'm not sure how to describe it or if any of you readers get it; it's weird and I don't recognize it but I kind of like it. Because I don't feel lonely in my aloneness. Not anymore, at least. Everything just feels so right, strangely. Huh.
Anyway, the photos on the blog were taken in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, one day, when we decided to just take a stroll around the park and enjoy the tranquility. Thought it seemed right for this post.
Enough meta. Or analysis. Enjoy the rest of the photos. :)