I try not to think too much about writing as a business. For me, all the joy comes at the desk and what comes after is a kind of sales tax and is what you have to do to pay admission to this otherwise wonderful career. So I live in rural Japan, and I have never really been on the world wide web, and I live very far from New York, and, from, I suppose, the day-to-day real world details of publishing. But that’s a conscious choice. It was almost a choice between, I won’t say happiness and success, but between being very plugged into that world or being plugged into the real world, and I figured I didn’t have enough energy for both, and I got more satisfaction from the real world. I did, after all, move from a 25th floor office in Rockefeller Center to a Zen temple on a backstreet in Kyoto when I was in my late 20s.I'm glad he didn't use the words "authentic" or "experience", which are all glossy and plastic now from being mass-produced. Real world: he goes for the jugular. "Authentic experience" is marketable and inoffensive. "Real world" is a judgment and a challenge.
What is the real world? It is not the world where you worry about paying your credit card bills on time, or the world where you have to know how to tie a tie properly to impress the right people, or the world where no one will look out for you and you have to take care of yourself by yourself, or the world where being 15 minutes late will ruin your life. That is the world people here mean when they say, "In the real world, that just isn't going to work."
No, the real world is the place of life. Depth. Breathing slow. Green leaves, a wind untainted by exhaust. Light on the water. Peace in your heart. One thought at a time.
I wish I lived in the real world all the time. I don't. I live like a squirrel, chittering and skittering, collecting acorn after acorn, burying them, forgetting where they are. Sometimes I am so happy as I run and leap. Other times I am frantic, and I can't make up my mind which side of the street I should be on as the car zooms closer.
But there is peace, there is joy, there are full stops instead of restless commas. I can end my sentence; it doesn't have to continue with a semicolon--a dash--one more thought. . . I can slow down. Isn't that what this time is for? For rest, not restlessness. Peace of mind, not a mind in pieces.
Breathe. Breathe. This is the real world.