Two fabulous Chicago theater experiences this weekend: Steppenwolf’s adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. Both were powerful and, if you are in Chicago, please see them.
At this moment, I want to share one passage from Kafka on the Shore. Kafka, a 15-year old runaway meets a girl, Sakura, on a bus. As they ride together, Sakura asks him about a Japanese saying that talks about people traveling together. The saying is ‘In travel a companion, in life compassion.” Sakura asks Kafka what the saying means, and he says “I think it means that chance encounters are what keep us going.”
Although Kafka on the Shore is very cryptic and its meaning is not obvious, one thing that is clear throughout the story is how people meet each other, interact and make a difference in each others’ lives. Altough I need to study Kafka on the Shore to understand it more deeply, I am struck how this one theme stands out so clearly in a dream-like tapestry of magical realism.
That the 15-year old’s name is Kafka is no coincidence, as he tries to confront the labyrinth of life in the story. But this makes it all the more interesting that he says “chance encounters are what keep us going.” As Martin Buber wrote, “All real living is meeting.” Our encounters with other people are what make life real. Don’t miss the opportunity for encounter, whether it presents itself by chance or through interactions you plan in advance to have with others. When confronting the complexities of life and business, follow Murakami’s advice and look for opportunities for relationship-building encounters with others. They are what keep us going.
(I’ll write about Amadeus once I can get a hold of the text. Mozart has an amazing passage about harmony that makes for great brand harmony discussion. I want to get the words right. No luck finding the text online tonight.)