Tuesday, May 4, 2010

★20 As May Kasahara

Hi, again, Mr. Wind-up Bird.

Last time,I got as far as telling you about how I'm working in this wig factory in the mountains far away with a lot of local girls. This is the continuation of that letter.

Lately, it's been really bothering me that, I don't know, the way people work like this every day from morning to night is kind of weird. Hasn't it ever struck you as strange? I mean, all I do here is the work that my bosses tell me to do the way they want me to do it. I don't have to think at all. I spend seven hours a day at a workbench, planting hairs into wig bases, then I eat dinner, take a bath, and of course I have to sleep, like everybody else, so out of a twenty four hour day, the amount of free time I have is nothing. And because I'm so tired from work, the 'free time' I have I mostly spend lying around in a fog. I don't have any time to sit and think about anything. Of course, I don't have to work on weekends, but then I have to catch up on laundry and cleaning, and sometimes I go into town, and before I know it the weekend is over.

But still - but still - it does not bother me at all that I'm now just part of the work I do. If anything, I feel that by concentrating on my work like this, with all the mindless determination of an ant, I'm getting closer to the "real me." I don't know how to put it, but it's as if by not thinking about myself I can get closer to the core of my self. That's what I mean by "kind of weird."

So strictly speaking, I am not enjoying the work here. All I'm doing is trying to accept the work in every possible way. When I'm making a wig, I don't think about anything but making that wig.

"The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami.
Book Three: Chapter 15 This Could Be the End of the Line (May Kasahara's Point of View: 3)

My work in the classroom isn't quite as mindless as May Kasahara's wig making, but doing a job that you're not thrilled about for hours on end five days a week you have to adopt a kind of 'mindless state' in order to get through the week. In that sense, it really is living in the moment. You take things hour by hour, class by class. Now I prepare, now I teach a lesson, now I get on the train, now I walk home, etc... I don't dislike my job. But I think I've realized once and for all that I don't want to be a teacher. I don't want to settle for this. But for certain reasons I need to do this right now and as far as jobs go it could be worse. So I'm trying to accept each day as best I can. And I feel, like May Kasahara, that there's something in the discipline and mindlessness of routine and work that really allows you to get closer to that "core self." No time for fruitless throughts and too tired for frivolities, the mind becomes empty in such way that, if I continue to dwell in this state, will eventually bring clarity and self-realization. For that reason, and for the simple fact that I've made a commitment, I won't leave my job. Even though recently every day feels more like a chore than anything else.

So in this coming year I will do my best to cultivate this emptiness (because something has to arise out of it) and I will make the best I can of this experience. So that hopefully by the time I'm done and am able to move on to what's next for me I will do so having developed a stronger sense of dedication and discipline. Of perseverance.

So here we go, Golden Week is almost over and soon it's back to more of the same.



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