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“Of course, I’ll have to find a job eventually. I know that. You know that. I can’t go on hanging around like this forever. And I will find a job sooner or later. It’s just that right now, I don’t know what kind of a job I should take. For a while after I quit, I just figured I’d take some other law-related job. I do have connections in the field. But now I can’t get myself into that mood. The more time that goes by, the less interest I have in law. I feel more and more that it’s simply not the work for me.”

Kumiko looked at me in the mirror. I went on:

“But knowing what I don’t want to do doesn’t help me figure out what I do want to do. I could do just about anything if somebody made me. But I don’t have an image of the one thing I really want to do. That’s my problem now. I can’t find the image.”

“So, then,” she said, putting her towel down and turning to face me, “if you’re tired of law, don’t do it anymore. Just forget about the bar exam. Don’t get all worked up about finding a job. If you can’t find the image, wait until it forms by itself. What’s wrong with that?”

I nodded. “I just wanted to make sure I had explained to you exactly how I felt.”


Brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I studied my face in the mirror. For over two months now, since quitting my job, I had rarely entered the “outside world.” I had been moving back and forth between the neighborhood shops, the ward pool, and this house. Aside from the Ginza and that hotel in Shinagawa, the farthest point I had traveled from home was the cleaner’s by the station. And in all that time, I had hardly seen anyone. Aside from Kumiko, the only people I could be said to have “seen” in two months were Malta and Creta Kano and May Kasahara. It was a narrow world, a world that was standing still. But the narrower it became, and the more it betook of stillness, the more this world that enveloped me seemed to overflow with things and people that could only be called strange. They had been there all the while, it seemed, waiting in the shadows for me to stop moving. And every time the wind-up bird came to my yard to wind its spring, the world descended more deeply into chaos.

I rinsed my mouth and went on looking at my face for a time.

I can’t find the image, I said to myself. I’m thirty, I’m standing still, and I can’t find the image.

— Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle


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