Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Genuine "10 List"

Hey...  Listen...  I know I said last week that I was going to return to an exposé on the magical system I'm creating for the world I'm creating for my novel, A Spell of 13 Years, but I'm going to do something different again.  
I hope this doesn't disappoint anyone.  But it is my blog so...  There you go.  
I've mentioned before that I'm reading this Japanese novel entitled "If Cats Disappeared from the World."  I got the book on May 10th.  Right now I'm somewhere around page 17, so I'm averaging less than a page a day.  But that's OK, because I'm enjoying the experience.  I can always tell I'm reading a good story because I'll keep thinking to myself, "I wish I had written this."  With this book I'm thinking that every page.  That and, "I wish I could go a sentence without pulling out my English-Japanese dictionary."  
I've finished a page the other day where they main character, who has discovered that the headache and fever he's had for some time is actually a stage four brain tumor and that he has a week to live, has come home to find the Devil in his home.  While walking home, the POV character is thinking of a scene from a movie he saw where the young lady, also having learned she was going to die soon, has written a "10" list.  A list of the ten things she wants to do before she dies.  He thinks about how he tried to come up with his own 10 list, but ended up deciding that doing something like that is too embarrassing and stupid.  
When he wakes up from collapsing on his sofa, his cat hovering over him worried, he finds the Devil standing in the middle of his room.  The Devil is a jovial fellow it seems, who looks exactly like the main character except he's dressed in a yellow "aloha shirt" and shorts (he comes from a warmer place, remember?).  
The Devil asks, "So...  What are you going to do now?"  
The man replies, "Well...  I was thinking...  Maybe...  I should write a 10 list?"
The Devil laughs at him.  Uproariously.  
"Just like in that movie?  Really?  You're not kidding?  Ok.  Well...  Why don't you?  Let's see what you come up with."
So, with the Devil standing over him as he sits at his computer, the man writes out his 10 list.  Here is what he comes up with.  I've included the original Japanese on the chance with some of the items I mistranslated his items.
1) ジェット機からスカイダイビング。
Sky-dive from a Jet Plane. 

2) エベレスト登頂。
Climb to the summit of Mt. Everest.

3) フェラーリでアウトバーンを疾走。
Dash down the autobahn in a Ferrari.

4) 満漢全度
"Mitsurikan All Seats."  As best I can tell, a type of banquet practiced in the Manchu era of ancient China where there would be so many items on the menu it would take the guests days to eat through them all.

5) ガンダムに乗る。
Ride in a Gundam.  For anyone reading my blog who doesn't know, a Gundam is a giant humanoid shape fighting vehicle from a Japanese animated series of the same name.  There's a life sized model of a Gundam in Tokyo.  

6) 世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ。
"Crying out Love at the Center of the World."  I don't know exactly what he means he wants to do.  It is the name of a well-known Japanese novel and movie where a young lady discovers she has a terminal illness.  Probably the movie he got the idea for doing a 10 list from.  

7) ナウシカとデート。
Going on a date with Nausicaa.  I assume he refers to the Nausicaa from the famous animated movie "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," one of the early films of Hayao Miyazaki.   

8) 曲がり角でコーヒーを持った美女とぶつかり、そこから恋愛に発展。
Bump into a beautiful woman holding coffee at a street corner and have it develop into a love affair.

9) 大雨のなか雨宿りをしていたら、かつて片思い先輩に再会。
Run into senior classmate from school that I had an unrequited crush on while taking shelter from a storm. 

10) 愛がしたい。
I want to fall in love.

When the Devil reads the list, he laughs out loud again.  "What?  Are you still in Junior High School?"  

Now I noticed two things about this man's list.  The first one was, while the specific items on it are a bit different than a 10 list I would write, the tone is very much in keeping with what mine would be.  There would be the impossible things, like riding in a Gundam, or for me having a crater on the moon domed and turned into my own personal villa.  There are the fantasies of running into someone who instantly falls in love with you in some series of events as logical and convoluted as a Rube Goldberg machine.  And in the end, there is the one, single raw desire stated as simply as it can be said, to find love in a world that seems to have withdrawn the possibility from you.  

Later, after thinking about it, I noticed something else about the list.  That it is also filled with things that, to put it simply, are common dreams.  Dreams that are there because one thinks they should want them.  Like streaking down the highway in a hot sports car or climbing to the top of the tallest mountain on Earth.  You've heard about other people doing this and you think to yourself, "Yeah...  That would be cool."  And there they stay in your head as things you should aspire to do.  That are normal to want.  

How much satisfaction can a person get fulfilling a borrowed dream?  

The character in If Cats Disappeared from the World discovers the same thing.  After laughing at him for a bit, the Devil says, "Well...  Let's get started!"  He takes the man to his bank where money is withdrawn (the Devil is apparently a cheapskate, too) and takes him to the airport where they get a jet to take them up to sky-dive.  The man tells us that the Devils pushes him from the plane and as he fell through the limitless sky found himself face to face with his dream come true.  

Or, that he'd like to say it was that way.  What he discovered was that it was WAY UP THERE!  And Cold!  And SCARY!  And that, as he was falling, feeling like a complete idiot, he thought to himself, "Are there people that REALLY want to DO THIS?"  

Yeah  There are.  But the main character wasn't one of them.  It was a borrowed dream.  On his list because he didn't take the time to think about the the things he REALLY wanted to do.  

The biggest problem with a 10 List is the "before I die" part.  That indistinct, hopefully not to be realized anytime soon time limit, we are more willing to borrow dreams from other people to fill all the slots.  

I think that a 10 List should have no such time limit.  Or a time limit that's really close.  Like, the 10 things I want to do NOW.  Or by the end of the day.  Or in the next 30 seconds.  

One of the things on my rewritten 10 list was to get this blog posted by the end of the day, instead of putting it off until tomorrow.  And I've just done that.  

Now to see if I can get to Nepal in the next couple of hours for item #2...


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