Haruki Murakami on Solitude (& The Regenerative Power of Long-Distance Running)

“Emotional hurt is the price one has to pay in order to be independent. That’s what I basically believe and I’ve lived my life accordingly. In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time cuts away at me from the inside. I think in my own way I’m aware of this danger – probably through experience – and that’s why I’ve had to constantly keep my body in motion, in some cases pushing myself to the limit, in order to heal the loneliness I feel inside and put it in perspective. Not so much as an intentional act, but as an instinctive reaction. Let me be more specific: When I’m criticized unjustly (from my own viewpoint, at least), or when someone I’m sure will understand me doesn’t, I go running for a little longer than usual. By running longer it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent. It also makes me realize again how weak I am, how limited my abilities are. I become aware, physically, of these low points. And one of the results of running a little farther than usual is that I become that much stronger. If I’m angry, I direct that anger toward myself. If I have a frustrating experience, I use that to improve myself. That’s the way I’ve always lived. I quietly absorb the things I’m able to, releasing them later, and in as changed a form as possible, as part of the storyline in a novel.”