Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#30DaysofScootering: What I Talk About When I Talk About Scootering

Haruki Murakami wrote a terrific book called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It is about running and writing but ultimately it is a book about life. As I read Murakami's book I found myself editing his experiences into my life. Where he talks about running, I would see myself scootering or bicycling. The lessons are the same.

Here is what Murakami has to say on pages 43-45 in my copy of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

When I tell people I run every day, some are quite impressed. "You must really have a strong will," they sometimes tell me. Of course, it's nice to be praised like this. A lot better than being disparaged, that's for sure. But I don't think it's merely willpower that makes you able to do something. The world isn't that simple. To tell the truth, I don't even think there's that much correlation between my running every day and whether or not I have a strong will. I think I've been able to run for more than twenty years for a simple reason: It suits me. Or at least because I don't find it all that painful. Human beings naturally continue doing things they like, and they don't continue what they don't like. Admittedly, something close to will does play a small part in that. But no matter how strong a will a person has, no matter how much he may hate to lose, if it's an activity he really doesn't care for, he won't keep it up for long. Even if he did, it wouldn't be good for him. 
That's why I've never recommended running to others. I've tried my best never to say something like, Running is great. Everybody should try it. If some people have an interest in long-distance running, just leave them be, and they'll start running on their own. If they're not interested in it, no amount of persuasion will make any difference. Marathon running is not a sport for everyone, just as being a novelist isn't a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even desired that I be a novelist -- in fact, some tried to stop me. I had the idea to be one, and that's what I did. Likewise, a person doesn't become a runner because someone recommends it. People basically become runners because they're meant to.
Still some might read this book and say, "Hey, I'm going to give running a try," and then discover they enjoy it. And of course that would be a beautiful thing. As the author of this book I'd be very pleased if that happened. But people have their own individual likes and dislikes. Some people are more suited for marathon running, some for golf, others for gambling. Whenever I see students in gym class all made to run a long distance, I feel sorry for them. Forcing people who have no desire to run, or who aren't physically fit enough, is a kind of pointless torture. I always want to advise teachers not to force all junior and senior high school students to run the same course, but I doubt anybody is going to listen to me. That's what schools are like. The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school.

Sometimes I stay inside and read books. Sometimes I grab my scooter and head out the door.

It suits me to ride my scooter every day.

Someone might read this blog and then say, "Hey, I'm going to give scootering a try."

And then discover they enjoy it.

Of course, that would be a beautiful thing.

As the author of this blog, I'd be very happy if that happened.

The most important thing we ever learn at school is the fact that the most important things can't be learned at school.

There is beauty all around.

Sometimes the best thing to do is roll out the door to find it.

3.81 miles of scootering today, bringing the April total to 233.79 miles.


  1. Thanks for posting this extract - wise and beautiful words.

  2. Thanks for the book mention. I added it to my reading list because I like to read. Because reading suits me, much as this chair suits me. Much as a bicycle suits me for travel and, perhaps someday, a scooter for grins.

  3. Great post, especially the quote from Murakami. This expresses what I've thought about bicycling and bicycle touring but have never taken the opportunity to put to words.

  4. Murakami- very good quote and a very insightful post. To draw another example of the principle at hand, I had been reading your blog before I decided I'd give blogging a try. And it turns out I liked it.
    Thanks for sharing this!