About ten years ago a friend lent me the book Veronika Decides to Die. I wouldn’t say it exactly changed my life but I do remember seeing something of myself in Veronika and it certainly made a lasting impression. For those who aren’t familiar with the text, Veronika, despite having everything she could wish for decides, one day, to take her own life. She takes an overdose of sleeping pills only to wake in hospital to be told that, although she has survived, her heart is irreparably damaged and she only has a few days to live.
At the time, I was suffering from serious depression and had gone so far to have considered taking my own life. It was for this reason my friend lent me the book. While everyone else was trying hard to make me understand that life was worth living (not really an argument for the suicidally depressed, as it seems there is nothing worth living for when every day is the same crushing failure as the one before) he lent me a book, with the promise that it would help.
Initially, I couldn’t understand why a book about a failed suicide might help me decide to fight my way out of depression, but it did. As Veronika discovered a desire to live, so did I. (I do have to attribute some of the work to anti depressants, counselling and the dogged determination of my sister.)
The whole point of mentioning this episode is as a preface to what happened yesterday morning. As usual for a weekend I woke early and, having made a cup of tea, returned to bed to read my new Murakami book, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. It’s been a while since I’ve read anything of his, so I was looking forward to losing myself in his writings. Instead, I was horrified to see myself in the opening description of the character of Tzukuru, a man whose life has become monotonous by routine. So much so, he feels he might as well stop existing. I didn’t like seeing myself in Tzukuru, not one bit.
As the novel progresses, Tzukuru realises he needs to take responsibility for his colourless life and confront whatever has caused this apathy. Yesterday morning I came to the same realisation. For the second time I can recall, seeing some of myself in a character in a book, and not for good reasons, forced a change.
Today was a better day. I went to bed early last night which meant I woke early this morning. Instead of wasting the morning away, by 9, I was ready to get myself up and go for a run. So I did. And it was good.