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Rice Pudding vs Macaroni cheese

20/07/2015

In my last blog post, I wrote about Haruki Murakami’s Wind-up bird chronicle. My prevailing reaction was one of bemusement but a sort of interested bemusement. For all its idiosyncrasy I thought the novel did offer some insights into the human condition.

One of the most interesting components was protagonist Toru Okada’s relationship with 17 year-old May Kasahara – a stray truant teen who finds societal expectations difficult but possesses a deep curiosity about people and the world around her.

For May Kasahara, the world has two different kinds of people:

[F]or one kind the world is this logical, rice pudding place, and for the other its all hit-or-miss macaroni cheese. I bet if those tree frog parents of mine put rice pudding mix in the microwave and got macaroni cheese when the bell rang, they’d just tell themselves, “oh we must have put in macaroni cheese mx by mistake,” or they’d take out the macaroni cheese and try to convince themselves, “This looks like macaroni cheese but actually it’s rice pudding”. And if I tried to be nice and explain to them that sometimes, when you put in rice pudding mix, you get macaroni cheese, they would never believe me. They’d probably just get mad.

The world is complicated and sometimes things don’t work out like we expect. We have a plan and a view of the world and expectations around what will happen when we do X but sometimes we get Z instead of Y.

There is a presumptive line of thinking that if you intend a certain outcome from your course of action then it will naturally follow. In many instances, of course, this is a reasonable enough expectation but to cope with what life throws at us we need to appreciate the world can sometimes defy our own understanding and logic. Misfortune can strike without warning in spite of good planning. This isn’t to suggest, of course that we shouldn’t plan in our own lives but we need an appreciation that despite the best of plans, sometimes, rice pudding can become macaroni cheese.

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