After this, harsh life flung me upon the path of a practicing feuilletonist. Oh, if only if I had never written a feuilleton.
Robert Walser, The Walk
(Bernofsky/Middleton trans., 2012)
Please -- a fresh look at the file cabinet. This city, every moment born anew (still a file cabinet), the sky so full of electric wires it qualifies as narrow-ruled.
No birds write on it.
In Tokyo, the good news and the bad news is the same: people leave you alone.
Along with the corrosive effects of isolation, time should be given as well to the wonders of non-interference.
In the eight inches between her house and the sidewalk, an old woman places a pot, in which she grows a remarkably discouraged-looking grapefruit tree. A spindly tree which nonetheless produces (no doubt to its own astonishment) a single enormous grapefruit.
Even though three million people walk past that tree, no one interferes with the grapefruit, which waits, ripening, on the scrawny tree until the day the old woman decides it is ready.
Entirely Too Long.
I am greatly disturbed by all the well-meaning persons endlessly advising one to live “a minute at a time”.
Though no doubt well-intentioned, these people are on the verge of being gravely wrong and may well harm the people they wish to help by encouraging them to take on too much.
A minute is at least 55 seconds too long, or 1200% too much.
5 seconds at a time. That’s my best guess.
Actually, no. I don’t mean that much really. Maybe only 3 seconds. Maybe even three seconds is too much.
Light can be beautiful all by itself, it turns out. The gentling light – without a tree to kiss, or a blade of grass, or a woman out for a walk with a dog. Without anything but concrete and asphalt, electric lines and speeding cars, without a single passersby who looks as though he wishes to do anything but sleep.
Tokyo – this city which always looks, it always seems to me, as if it were not intended to be seen. As if it were the back, or inside, of something. The utility closet.
Still, at 6pm, the periwinkle light arrives and, even with nowhere to fall but the street and the wires and roofs, the light is beautiful, all by itself.
My vocation is a small cairn of stones in the forest. Deliberately minor, unlikely to be found. Of no practical use, of zero importance, the cairn will soon be scattered by a wanderer, or a passing animal, or even by the rain.
That is exactly how it should be.
Just the same, I admit I like to imagine a solitary traveler, on her way through the forest, might come upon it, and pause for a breath, and add a stone.