In college, I had a great friend who wanted to explore life outside of a conservative religious household. To try new experiences, foods, boys, everything. I warned her that relaxing the rules was simple but reigning them back in to go back home after graduation was hard. She didn’t listen to me.
Apparently, I didn’t listen to myself. Until high school, we live in the conformity of schedule. Our parents’ schedule. The school schedule. Our extracurricular schedules. With each schedule comes rules. You must abide by this dress code at school or eat that for dinner. That all changes in college.
We get to make our own rules. Some rules, as simple as brushing teeth or showering, can go out the window. Not necessarily because we want to smell or have bad teeth. Not even because we’re lazy. I think deep down, we’re testing our sense of self – our tolerance to not bathing; we question the rules.
Of course this isn’t true for everyone. Some live and breath by the regiment, and they are better for it.
But the end of college comes, and all of a sudden we need to reign in and face the working world. And suddenly, we’re no longer following the regiment but managing it ourselves. And it’s incredibly difficult, when the rules no longer exist. We have to make the rules again. Brush your teeth. Get up at 7 am every day. Go to work. Don’t miss meetings. Navigate the social circles. Shower. Oh, it’s laundry day again. Pay the rent. You need to feed your cat! Scoop the litter box. Go to the gym. Send emails. You should go to bed soon because you have to wake up in the morning. Groceries.
It’s been difficult for me. I’m rather smart. But it’s hard enough learning to pay bills on time and how to file taxes. The addition of a job and friends and everything. It’s so much. Once all the small things become non-mandatory, it’s hard to add them back into your life. Daily activities become juggling a huge to do list and trying not to let one of the hundreds of things a day slip. Nothing is natural or a habit anymore. Sometimes I just want to run away and have some epiphany, see every Murakami book. But running away isn’t a way to live life. (And let’s not forget, I actually like my friends and my job – most of the time – and my life.)
So what’s my point? Murakami explores in Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles this concept of self. If you’re stuck such vastness/darkness that the concept of the physical you is no longer relevant, your soul will rise and expand past the confines of your physical body. Can you do so to such a degree that you lose the concept of self? Can you love someone so much that when they’re gone, you’re a dead soul going through the paces in a real body? Can you relax the rules so much around what life means and how to behave socially that you can never fit back into society, into large, complex entities?