Thursday, June 03, 2010


A brisk walk to the station on a cool but pleasant spring morning is the perfect means to a fresh mind, the brush to the chalkboard of one's soul. The sun is out. The birds are singing their incomprehensible, though melodious, songs. The streets are still empty. One is left with the feeling that if one's walk is true, and the pace is brisk, a certain path can be followed.

But Mailer's words read the other day come back to me, that even gods may be using us as games in their own mysterious game, or words to that effect.

This certainty I feel on an ordinary morning in suburban Japan may very well be similar to that sensation which the pawn on a chessboard feels before he is moved against his will. Who is to say that I am not merely the plaything of a higher, indifferent being? Already forces are aligning themselves against my progress, I suspect. The air is fresh and welcome in my lungs, and the sound of an approaching train is a signal that I, too, will soon step aboard, working waiting for me to disembark.

There is the uneasy but titillating knowledge that I could postpone work's monotony for a day or two, simply by deciding to miss my stop. It is possible to do. Such mistakes do happen. People fall asleep on the train, or drift away listening to music, or simply decide that is enough is enough. Work can wait. Life will, for once, take precedence.

I will do no such thing, I realize. A disrupted life can lead to only more rips in the silk of normality. The train will be caught, and the work will be done. As it was yesterday. As it will follow tomorrow. Such is the unspoken but inevitable bargain I have already made with the gods charting my progress, like fisherman looking through the water at the catch whose crispy cooking they are already planning in the depth and stink of their bellies' hungry groans. Better to appease the gods than await their wrath.

Perhaps, if I'm careful, and quiet, the shimmer and rumble of the carriage will distract the mapmakers charting my progress. I can distract them for a moment with the minutia of train-doors closing, black laptop bags being lugged onto metal rags, the dreary, droopy faces of Japanese commuters beginning again that which has no end but the final one. While the gods are looking down, bemused, at such futile, human actions, bored puppetmasters killing time at internmission, I can steal away within my thoughts and gain control of a life that remains stubbornly my own, if only in my head, the divine ones be damned.