– If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
– But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.
– Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Only assholes do that.
– Nobody likes being alone that much. I don’t go out of my way to make friends, that’s all. It just leads to disappointment.
– Only the Dead stay seventeen forever.
– I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?
– Letters are just pieces of paper,” I said. “Burn them, and what stays in your heart will stay; keep them, and what vanishes will vanish.
– I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it — to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once.
– I didn’t have much to say to anybody but kept to myself and my books. With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw it’s fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.
– I really like you, Midori. A lot.”
“How much is a lot?”
“Like a spring bear,” I said.
“A spring bear?” Midori looked up again. “What’s that all about? A spring bear.”
“You’re walking through a field all by yourself one day in spring, and this sweet little bear cub with velvet fur and shiny little eyes comes walking along. And he says to you, “Hi, there, little lady. Want to tumble with me?’ So you and the bear cub spend the whole day in each other’s arms, tumbling down this clover-covered hill. Nice, huh?”
“Yeah. Really nice.”
“That’s how much I like you.
– What makes us the most normal,” said Reiko, “is knowing that we’re not normal.
– Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail. I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. The scenery was the last thing on my mind.
– I know I have a pretty good sense for music, but she was better than me. I used to think it was such a waste! I thought, ‘If only she had started out with a good teacher and gotten the proper training, she’d be so much further along!’ But I was wrong about that. She was not the kind of child who could stand proper training. There just happen to be people like that. They’re blessed with this marvelous talent, but they can’t make the effort to systematize it. They end up squandering it in little bits and pieces. I’ve seen my share of people like that. At first you think they’re amazing. Like, they can sight-read some terrifically difficult piece and do a damn good job playing it all the way through. You see them do it, and you’re overwhelmed. you think, ‘I could never do that in a million years.’ But that’s as far as they go. They can’t take it any further. And why not? Because they won’t put in the effort. Because they haven’t had the discipline pounded into them. They’ve been spoiled. They have just enough talent so they’ve been able to play things well without any effort and they’ve had people telling them how great they are from the time they’re little, so hard work looks stupid to them. They’ll take some piece another kid has to work on for three weeks and polish it off in half the time, so the teacher figures they’ve put enough into it and lets them go to the next thing. And they do that in half the time and go on to the next piece. They never find out what it means to be hammered by the teacher; they lose out on a certain element required or character building. It’s a tragedy.
– I read Naoko’s letter again and again, and each time I read it I would be filled with the same unbearable sadness I used to feel whenever Naoko stared into my eyes. I had no way to deal with it, no place I could take it to or hide it away. Like the wind passing over my body, it had neither shape nor weight, nor could I wrap myself in it.
– Which is why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I’m made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.
– I had learned one thing from Kizuki’s death, and I believed that I had made it a part of myself in the form of a philosophy: “Death is not the opposite of life but an innate part of life.”
By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko’s death was this: no truth can cure the sorrow we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see it through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sorrow that comes to us without warning.
– Don’t you see? It’s just not possible for one person to watch over another person forever and ever. I mean, suppose we got married. You’d have to work during the day. Who’s going to watch over me while you’re away? Or if you go on a business trip, who’s going to watch over me then? Can I be glued to you every minute of our lives? What kind of equality would there be in that? What kind of relationship would that be? Sooner or later you’d get sick of me. You’d wonder what you were doing with your life, why you were spending all your time babysitting this woman. I couldn’t stand that. It wouldn’t solve any of my problems.
– “I’ve never met a girl who thinks like you.”
“A lot of people tell me that,” she said, digging at a cuticle. “But it’s the only way I know how to think. Seriously. I’m just telling you what I believe. It’s never crossed my mind that my way of thinking is different from other people’s. I’m not trying to be different. But when I speak out honestly, everybody thinks I’m kidding or playacting. When that happens, I feel like everything is such a pain!
– “What happens when people open their hearts?”…
“They get better.”