A portion of an article on why Haruki Murakami, Japan’s most famous novelist, began writing:
And then there was an epiphany. “Yes, epiphany is the word,” he says.
It is, he says, the only truly weird thing that has ever happened to him. He was watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp one day in April 1978. A US player called Dave Hilton hit the first ball way out into left field. And at that extraordinary moment, Murakami realized he could write a novel.
I’m a big fan of Murakami. And I love hearing what caused him to start writing because a man hitting a double doesn’t sound like an action that would stir someone to write a novel. It’s absurd.
And yet in 2006 I was relaxing on a Friday night after getting home from working on a trading desk in downtown Chicago. My girlfriend (now wife) stopped by with a friend. The both of them were in med school at the time and we were having a drink before they went to some Med School get-together. At one point I got up to go to the kitchen to get a beer when I noticed my head felt odd. It felt like my brain was at peace instead of constantly analyzing and assessing my situation. It felt nice but it was unusual. The next moment it was 5:30 on Saturday morning and I was on a gurney in the Masonic Medical Center on Chicago’s north side.
It bothered me for weeks.
Why did I pass out?
My girlfriend and her friend heard a sound like something falling hard to the floor. When I walked back in the room I started talking in loops about specific topics and when my girlfriend brought up a recent vacation to Costa Rica I told her I’ve never been there. They brought me to the hospital where I kept repeating the same questions. One of them being “Did I fall down?” Until 5:30ish when I remember waking up.
Like I said it bothered me for weeks. But what compounded the situation was a week later I saw a person faint on the brown line going to work. I’d never seen a person faint before and it freaked me out. Let alone the fact that she woke up 10 seconds later, stood up and pretended nothing happened. The people who had seats offered her theirs’, insisting she should really sit down, but she refused, as if this was a common occurrence and not something to dwell on.
A few weeks later I was crossing the street as a man on a bike was going through the same intersection. He was on the other side the street from me. And when he was in the middle of the road he fainted! While riding the bike! He was going quite slow so he didn’t go shooting off his bike and it wasn’t a busy intersection by any means so there was no chance he’d be hit by a car either. He sort of crumbled on the middle bar of his bike and tipped over. By the time I got to him he was on his feet and shaking his hands at me to indicate he was fine and not to worry. He jumped on his bike and pedaled away.
In 27 years of life I never saw a person faint or experience fainting myself. And yet in a matter of weeks I fainted and 2 people fainted near me. This is the only truly weird thing that has happened to me.
And then there was an epiphany.