“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami
If you ever played an sport and were dedicated to give your best, you can easily correlate with this very popular quote from Haruki Murakami.
Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer, his work been translated into 50 languages and his best-selling books have sold millions of copies. In 2007 he published What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, in which he writes about his interest and participation in long-distance running. The book is translated by Philip Gabriel. Murakami started running in the early 1980s and since then has competed in over twenty marathons and an ultra marathons.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is one of the finest recommended books if you are into sports or even you are not, read to understand how running can change everything around you. We pick some famous quotes form his memoir.
“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.”
“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.”
Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.”
“The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky.”
The book’s title was inspired by Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories entitled What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.
Additional Read: Interview with Murakami , I’m A Runner: Haruki Murakami