Monday, February 7, 2011

Off and Running Monday: Mindfulness Monday

My idea, on Monday mornings, is to look at the weather and schedule my week, at least regarding such things as jogging and exercising.  I subscribe to (which is completely free, by the way), and they automatically send me daily reminders to enter and chart my weight.  Mindfulness.  

And I know it's a cliche: the body is a temple.  Like all cliches, it lends itself well to parody, sometimes in the form of tee shirts marketed across the web:  "My body is a temple, and you don't have a prayer."  And, "My body is a temple but it has fallen into ruins."

Cliche or not, the mindfulness of daily exercise is a healthy habit to develop.  My wife and I, like almost everyone else, string I-love-you's into every cellular call between us, no matter where we are.  This could become a rote, but when you say it and mean it, it is simply a form of mindfullness.  The busy material world closes in every day, and every day we need to remind ourselves of who we are and who we love and the order of our priorities.

Haruki Murakami, lover of jazz and the brilliant author of many novels involving magic realism, wrote a wonderful running memoir in his most laid-back style.  He had taken up running at age thirty-three, after he sold his jazz bar in Tokyo, and he wrote this particular book in his fifties.  He says,

"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."

Like me, sometimes he listens to jazz as he runs, and sometimes to his old favorites, such as the Lovin' Spoonful or the Beach Boys.  
Murakami says he took the title of his book from the title of the Raymond Carver short story collection, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, and he thanks Carver's widow for giving him permission. Murakami has translated many of Carver's works into Japanese, as well as other American fiction.  He says:

"One other project I'm involved in now is translating Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and things are going well. I've finished the first draft and am revising the second. I'm taking my time, going over each line carefully, and as I do so the translation gets smoother and I'm better able to render Fitzgerald's prose into more natural Japanese."

"It's a little strange, perhaps, to make this claim at such a late date, but Gatsby really is an outstanding novel.  I never get tired of it, no matter how many times I read it.  It's the kind of literature that nourishes you as you read, and every time I do I'm struck by something new, and experience a fresh reaction to it.  I find it amazing how such a young writer, only twenty-one at the time, could grasp--so insightfully, so equitably, and so warmly--the realities of life.  How was this possible?  The more I think about it, and the more I read the novel, the more mysterious it all is."

Music, baseball, literature, and running.  My kind of writer. Runners looking for a similar read might want to try Don Kardong's Thirty Phone Booths to Boston.  Readers new to Murakami who enjoyed this one might be inspired to try one of the author's many novels, and I highly recommend them, especially The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel.

1 comment:

  1. Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a fun and thrilling read. Like Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, it is an absorbing detective yarn with wild conspiratorial overtones. A Pynchon fan, Murakami has occasionally remarked on Pynchon's influence on his works.