Dreaming of Getting There

Haruki Murakami Makes Me Sad

In Haruki Murakami’s books, the characters often have very specific dreams and very obscure desires. They’d say things like:

“I like to have someone to read to me,” she explained. “It’s been my dream ever since I was a child — to sit in a sunny place, gaze at the sky or the sea, and have someone read aloud to me. I don’t care what they read — a newspaper, a textbook, a novel. It doesn’t matter. But no one’s ever read to me before. So I suppose that means you’re making up for all those lost opportunities. Besides, I love your voice.”

- Man-Eating Cats

And they’d mean it. These minuscule dreams, very human and touching, are why Murakami’s characters fail to evolve. They have no desires, no plans for the future. They float across life, leaving behind only small bubles of discontent.

I worked at a medium-sized design company that specialized in book and magazine layouts. Calling me a “designer” makes it sound more than it was, since the work was fairly cut-and-dried. Nothing flamboyant or imaginative. Most of the time, our schedule was a bit too hectic, and several times a month I had to pull an all-nighter at the office. Some of the work bored me to tears. Still, I didn’t mind the job, and the company was a relaxed place. Because I had seniority, I was able to pick and choose my assignment and say pretty much whatever wanted to. My boss was O.K., and I got along with my co-workers. And the salary wasn’t half bad. So if nothing had happened, I probably would have stayed with the company for the foreseeable future. And my life, like the Moldau River — or, more precisely, the nameless water that makes up the Moldau River — would have continued to flow, ever so swiftly; into the sea.

- Man-Eating Cats

You Don’t Want To Be In This Book

I see people like this all the time. People who’s desires are broken. The comfort of a steady job and a decent paycheck wins, the joys of doing something you love pushed aside. This has been the way people used to work all the time, because they had no choice. You had to work in the field because that’s where all the food was. You had to work in the coal mine, because that was where all the jobs were.

This is no longer true. Today, job opportunities are everywhere. How could a Peruvian potter find customers in his small village in Peru? Today there are Peruvian potters who sell so much on the Internet they outsource the pottery to China! In the old world, you couldn’t start your business because you couldn’t find enough people to care. And this is no longer true.

Don’t like your job? Quit. Start a business. Set goals. Get going. There is nothing to be afraid of.