Do you like novels with talking sheep and cities that have a population consisting entirely of cats?
Well I do.
Or course I’m talking about, Haruki Murakami, Japan’s most famous novelist. Here’s an excerpt from a recent article where a journalist describes why Haruki began writing:
And then there was an epiphany. “Yes, epiphany is the word,” he says.
It is, he says, the only truly weird thing that has ever happened to him. He was watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp one day in April 1978. A US player called Dave Hilton hit the first ball way out into left field. And at that extraordinary moment, Murakami realized he could write a novel.
That’s the foundation for his literary career- a man hitting a double. It doesn’t sound like a momentous action that would stir someone to write a novel. It’s absurd.
And yet in 2006, on a Friday night after getting home from my day job, I saw a man hit a double too.
My girlfriend (now wife) popped in with a friend. We were having a drink before that evening’s plans of going to some sort of themed party- if I had to guess, which I’m not, because it’s not important, because we never went. The man hitting a double happened first and it erased all of that night’s activities with it.
That moment was when I walked to the kitchen to get a beer.
I began feeling an odd excitability in my head. My mind wasn’t analyzing or assessing. It wasn’t categorizing or filing. It was acting remarkably different. And in an instant, before I even got to the kitchen, it was 5:30 on a Saturday morning and I was sprawled out on a gurney in the Masonic Medical Center on Chicago’s north side. Apparently, I passed out.
This bothered me for weeks.
Why? Why did I pass out?
My girlfriend and her friend told me they heard a sound like something heavy falling hard to the ground. When I walked back in the room I started talking in loops and when questioned about certain topics, such as a recent vacation to Costa Rica, I couldn’t recall ever being there. They brought me to the hospital where I kept this up until the next moment I remember, around 5:30, when I woke up.
Like I said it bothered me for weeks. But what compounded the situation was a week later I saw a person faint on the brown line on the way to my day job. I’d never seen a person faint before and it freaked me out. Let alone the fact that she woke up 10 seconds later, stood up and pretended nothing happened. People offered her their seats insisting she should sit down, but she refused, as if this was a common occurrence and everyone should get about their day.
A few weeks later I was crossing the street as a man on a bike was going through the same intersection. He was on the other side the street from me. And right as he was crossed the middle of the pavement- he fainted! While riding his bike! It’s okay- he was going quite slow. He didn’t shoot off his bike or pummel a pedestrian. And you couldn’t really call it a busy intersection for car traffic either. He just sort of crumpled on the cross-bar and tipped over. By the time I got to him he was already on his feet shaking his hands at me to indicate “it’s cool, it’s cool- no worries.” He jumped backed on his bike and pedaled away.
In twenty-seven years of life I never saw a person faint or faint myself. And yet in a matter of weeks three incidences occurred. This is the only truly weird thing that has happened to me.
And then there was an epiphany.