There is something rather intimate about reading a used book and finding passages underlined and pages bent. Those underlined segments and bent pages are indicators of words that held meaning to a previous reader. A window into their mind, heart or soul.
“What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami is the book that holds the most underlined passages and bent pages for me. It is a book I read feeling, “YES! SOMEONE UNDERSTANDS ME!” I keep a pile of books by my bed, which is where I read every evening. The pile is constantly on rotation of books to be read, books read, books to be shelved. Except for this one. It stays on the night stand to be flipped through and reminded of the running words within.
Here are some of my favorite passages in the book for my fellow running lovers out there:
“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring. I’ve had this tendency ever since I was young, when, given a choice, I much preferred reading books on my own or concentrating on listening to music over being with someone else. I could always think of things to do by myself.”
“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”
“The only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
“I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.”
“It’s precisely because of the pain, the we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it.”
“It doesn’t matter how old I get, but as long as I continue to live I’ll always discover something new about myself.”
“That was the rule. Break one of my rules once, and I’m bound to break many more.”
“If you’re young and talented, it’s like you have wings.”