What happens ‘After Dark’

“It’s not as if our lives are simply divided into light and dark. There’s a shadowy middle ground. Recognizing and understanding the shadows is what a healthy intelligence does.” – Haruki Murakami

Yeah, I know. It has been a while since my last post.

I began to read Haruki Murakami’s After Dark soon after finishing 1Q84, but for some reason the task proved to be quite laborious. The 248 pages stretched on for months, and looking back, I can’t say the experience was particularly memorable or exciting.

Now, this might have had more to do with my own mood and state of mind at the time. Settling into a new job and its own rituals is a process that often requires a lot of energy and attention, so there didn’t seem to be much space for other things like reading.

In spite of this, I managed to move forward and finish the book, albeit at a very leisurely pace. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as 1Q84, but I do recall the imagery fondly: snapshots of a city late at night, neon signs and seedy motels, late-night breakfasts at Wendy’s and chance encounters with people who soon become friends.

And that’s really what struck me the most about this story in particular: the overarching theme of how our lives intersect in unexpected ways, at seemingly the right (or wrong) times, and how this ultimately alters our path.

I have always been fascinated – and a bit tortured – by the idea of fate. When you look at it that way, normal interactions and decisions often overlooked are suddenly not so mundane anymore. You get a glimpse of these threads that weave in and out of your life, and you get the idea that all of this is much more intricate than you could have ever anticipated, and most likely beyond your comprehension at this point.

But I can’t just marvel at it, I have to pick it apart too. That’s usually when the barrage of ‘what ifs’ make their appearance. Sometimes barreling out violently and making my head spin; other times dripping out slowly, like the last bit of honey trying to make its way out of the bottle and onto your pancakes.

In my case, the taste is decidedly more bitter than sweet.