A few days ago, I visited the university bookstore to kill some time before a housewarming party I was invited to. I didn't have all the time in the world so I wandered over to fiction and picked up Kafka on the Shore. I told myself I'd reread it when I got the chance, and since my computer broke down a week ago and still isn't repaired, I figured it'd be a good time to do so.
I read Kafka on the Shore for the first time in the spring of sophomore year in high school. Admittedly, I decided to pick it up out of a want to fit into the Tumblr communities I wanted to be part of. I wanted to listen to the same music as everyone else, post the same things, read the same things, think the same way all the popular bloggers were thinking. I was lonely, and I figured if I found a found a common ground with people, I'd be able to make friends.
That isn't to say the book itself didn't intrigue me, either. I remember there being a lot of Kafka on the Shore quotes in constant circulation on my dashboard, and I remember being blown away by the prose.
So, the next time I got to go to the bookstore, I bought a copy and started reading.
Approximately one year before this, I learned that when we go through puberty and through the throes of teenage angst, our brains are rewired, causing chemical imbalances. I rationalized with myself that the sadness and confusion I was feeling was rooted in that fact, and that I'd get over it soon enough.
However, what I was feeling, felt as though it extended far beyond what seemed normal. Sophomore year was arguably my hardest year in high school. It felt like the earth beneath me collapsed, and I fell headfirst into a lonely darkness. And I thought that, if the weight of the sadness didn't kill me, I would.
(I almost did, too.)
Crow's "Fate is like a small sandstorm" monologue, specifically the first paragraph, was so powerful to me, and even more so when I read it on paper and had context. It made me feel as if I wasn't so alone anymore, and that I'm just going through my own storm. I resolved it within myself to let myself be consumed, to let myself be enveloped by the inevitable.
Needless to say, the book became a source of comfort. There was so much knowledge that came with reading it, and also a small means of escape. I loved reading the character development, and I loved being able to see my thoughts put into words.
This was 5 years ago.
Reading Kafka now, I realize, is a completely different experience. Crow's monologue still leaves its mark, but for a different reason. Particularly:
Once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one this is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.
Recently, I find myself wondering how I got here, how I've made it so far. I wonder, how on earth I'm about to enter the real world, when I was so sure that I would manage to end myself before I even started university. But, it's been 5 years.
I find that, it's no longer a matter of how, or why, but rather the end result. Regardless of how I got to this point, I still remain.
With the passage of time, the last paragraph of Crow's monologue is the portion that impacts me the most -- and understandably so. In the five years that have passed since I last read Kafka, many storms ended, and other storms began: I graduated high school, finished three years of university, and am about to enter my last.
In those five years, I've let myself bleed because I hated the very blood I had in me. I cursed myself for being human, for having too soft of a heart at the most inconvenient times. I was ashamed at how sensitive I was capable of being. I was afraid of letting anyone in. I've thought of so many different ways to end myself. I've drafted so many letters saying good bye.
But, in those five years, I've also made peace with some of my demons, let go of some of all the contempt I had for myself. In those five years, I forgave myself for having a heart, and learned to use it. I learned to let go of the hate and anger I've kept in me for so long, to make room for trust and love.
In those five years, I've walked through many miles of the storm, only to come out and walk into a different one. But the point of the matter is that I'm here, and I'm not what I used to be.
I'm not done with rereading the book yet, so I'm sure more things will catch my eye. But, that specific monologue was instrumental in my growth, and it's always going to be tucked safely away somewhere in my memory for me to call upon when I need to reaffirm the changes.
Five years down the line, I'll pick this book up again and read it as if I'm reading it for the first time. I'll be a different person, with a different storm in me. But I would've make it through like I did ten years ago from then.
I would've made it again.