Hi, again, Mr. Wind-Up Bird,
It's three-thirty in the morning. All my neighbors are sound asleep, but I can't sleep tonight, so I'm up, writing this letter to you. To tell you the truth, sleepless nights are as unusual for me as sumo wrestlers who look good in berets. Usually, I just slip right into sleep when the time comes, and slip right out when it's time to wake up. I do have an alarm clock, but I almost never use it. Every rare once in a while, though, this happens: I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep.
I'm planning to stay at my desk, writing this letter to you, until I get sleepy, so I don't know if this is going to be a long letter or a short one. Of course, I never really know that anytime I write to you until I get to the end.
Anyway, it seems to me that the way most people go on living (I suppose there are a few exceptions), they think that the world or life (or whatever) is this place where everything is (or is supposed to be) basically logical and consistent. Talking with my neighbors here often makes me think that. Like, when something happens, whether it's a big event that affects the whole of society or something small and personal, people talk about it like, "Oh, well, of course, that happened because such and such," and most of the time people will agree and say, like, "Oh, sure, I see," but I just don't get it. "A is like this, so that's why B happened." I mean, that doesn't explain anything. It's like when you put instant rice pudding mix in a bowl in the microwave and push the button, and you take the cover off when it rings, and there you've got rice pudding. I mean, what happens in between the time when you push the switch and when the microwave rings? You can't tell what's going on under the cover. Maybe the instant rice pudding first turns into macaroni gratin in the darkness when nobody's looking and only then turns back into rice pudding. We think it's only natural to get rice pudding after we put rice pudding mix in the microwave and the bell rings, but to me that's just a presumption. I would be kind of relieved if, every once in a while, after you put rice pudding mix in the microwave and it rang and you opened the top, you got macaroni gratin. I suppose I'd be shocked, of course, but I don't know, I think I'd be kind of relieved too. Or at least I think I wouldn't be so upset, because that would feel, in some ways, a whole lot more real.
Why "more real"? Trying to explain that logically, in words, would be very, very, very hard, but maybe if you take the path my life has followed as an example and really think about it, you can see that it has had almost nothing about it that you could call "consistency". First of all, it's an absolute mystery how a daughter like me could be born to two parents as boring as tree frogs. I know it's a little weird for me to be saying this, but I'm a lot more serious than the two of them combined. I'm not boasting or anything, it's just a fact. I don't mean to say that I'm any better than they are, but I am a more serious human being. If you met them, you'd know what I mean, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. Those people believe that the world is as consistent and explainable as the floor plan of a new house in a high-priced development, so if you do everything in a logical, consistent way, everything will turn out right in the end. That's why they get upset and sad and angry when I'm not like that.
Why was I born into this world as the child of such absolute dummies? And why didn't I turn into the same kind of stupid tree frog daughter even though I was raised by those people? I've been wondering and wondering about that ever since I can remember. But I can't explain it. It seems to me there ought to be a good reason, but it's a reason that I can't find. And there are tons of other things that don't have logical explanations. For example, "Why does everybody hate me?" I didn't do anything wrong. I was just living my life in the usual way. But then, all of a sudden, one day I noticed that nobody liked me. I don't understand it.
So then one disconnected thing led to another disconnected thing, and that’s how all kinds of stuff happened. Like, I met the boy with the motorcycle and we had that stupid accident. The way I remember it - or the way those things are all lined up in my head - there’s no “This happened this way, so naturally that happened that way.” Every time the bell rings and I take off the cover, I seem to find something I’ve never seen before.
I don’t have any idea what’s happening to me, and before I know it I’m not going to school anymore and I’m hanging around the house, and that’s when I meet you, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. No, before that I’m doing surveys for a wig company. But why a wig company? That’s another mystery. I can’t remember. Maybe I hit my head in the accident, and the position of my brain got messed up. Or maybe the psychological shock of it started me covering up all kinds of memories, the way a squirrel hides a nut and forgets where he’s buried it. (Have you ever seen that happen, Mr. Wind-Up Bird? I have. When I was little. I thought the stupid squirrel was sooo funny! It never occurred to me the same thing was going to happen to me.)
So anyhow, I started doing surveys for the wig company, and that’s what gave me this fondness for wigs like they were my destiny or something. Talk about no connection! Why wigs and not stockings or rice scoops? If it had been stockings or rice scoops, I wouldn’t be working hard in a wig factory like this. Right? And if I hadn’t caused that stupid bike accident, I probably wouldn’t have met you in the back alley that summer, and if you hadn’t met me, you probably would never have known about the Miyawakis’ well, so you wouldn’t have gotten that mark on your face, and you wouldn’t have gotten mixed up in all those strange things… probably. When I think about it like this, I can’t help asking myself, “Where is there any logical consistency in the world?”
I don’t know - maybe the world has two different kinds of people, and for one kind the world is this completely logical, rice pudding place, and for the other it’s all hit-or-miss macaroni gratin. I bet if those tree frog parents of mine put rice pudding mix in the microwave and got macaroni gratin when the bell rang, they’d just tell themselves, “Oh, we must have put in macaroni gratin mix by mistake,” or they’d take out the macaroni gratin and try to convince themselves, “This looks like macaroni gratin, but actually it’s rice pudding.” And if I tried to be nice and explain to them that sometimes, when you put in rice pudding mix, you get macaroni gratin, they would never believe me. They’d probably just get mad. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you, Mr. Wind-Up Bird?
Remember when I kissed your mark that time? I’ve been thinking about that ever since I said goodbye to you last summer, thinking about it over and over, like a cat watching the rain fall, and wondering what was that all about? I don’t think I can explain it myself, to tell you the truth. Sometime way in the future, maybe ten years or twenty years from now, if we have a chance to talk about it, and if I’m more grown up and a lot smarter than I am now, I might be able to tell you what it meant. Right now, though, I’m sorry to say, I think I just don’t have the ability, or the brains, to put it into the right words.
One thing I can tell you honestly, though, Mr. Wind-Up Bird, is that I like you better without the mark on your face. No; wait a minute; that’s not fair. You didn’t put the mark there on purpose. Maybe I should say that even without your mark, you’re good enough for me. Is that it? No, that doesn’t explain anything.
Here’s what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. That mark is maybe going to give you something important. But it also must be robbing you of something. Kind of like a trade-off. And if everybody keeps taking stuff from you like that, you’re going to be worn away until there’s nothing left of you. So, I don’t know, I guess what I really want to say is that it wouldn’t make any difference to me if you didn’t have that thing.
Sometimes I think that the reason I’m sitting here making wigs like this every day is because I kissed your mark that time. It’s because I did that that I made up my mind to leave that place, to get as far away as I could from you. I know I might be hurting you by saying this, but I think it’s true. Still, though, it’s because of that that I was finally able to find the place where I belong. So, in a sense, I am grateful to you, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. I don’t suppose it’s much fun to have somebody be “in a sense” grateful to you, though, is it?
So now I feel like I’ve said just about everything I have to say to you, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. It’s almost four o’clock in the morning. I have to get up at seven-thirty, so maybe I’ll be able to sleep three hours and a little bit. I hope I can get to sleep right away. Anyhow, I’m going to end this letter here. Goodbye, Mr. Wind-Up Bird. Please say a little prayer so I can get to sleep.