Don’t Look Back!

Let me look back at the past twelve months, that is, 2008. This year had a lot to do with death: I wrote about it, I thought about it, and I went to a few funerals. I skipped the wedding invitations. A few babies were born. I had my first experience teaching Aikido for pre-school kids. Harold Pinter died, and just a few days before he passed away I listened to his Nobel Lecture.

One look at the headlines of the past week, and I do wonder what it is that humanity has really learned throughout the millennia. Culture? Civilisation? It would be nice! Nice to have, but obviously a luxury that we can not yet afford.

To mention death in the second sentence may strike you as odd. I am watching the last scene of the film Babel, and there a father hugs his daughter on the balcony of a Tokyo highrise. That is the one scene that has remained in my memory ever since I saw the film on the big screen. Life is odd, absurd even. It is perhaps the absurdity and oddness of it all that has me so in love with life.

Last night I watched The Spy Who Loved Me and was reminded of how wonderfully fantastic fiction is. Reality is a whole lot more perplexing and often devoid of plausible plots. After seeing Quantum of Solace, I wanted to watch an old James Bond strip, if nothing else because I love the cars, but Agent Triple X is one of my favourites. Comparing the gadgetry is fun, from a dymo tape to a smart phone, there have been thirty years in between, and we are still using radio waves for communication. Deep down, not much has changed, not even the hairstyles! The plots are however primordial, it is still about water and skin is beautiful. Girls walk in the desert in high hills… You know, it is the same old story, really!

But for 2008, here is one review (German), or another here, or still another here.

There is one word on my mind: greed. If death was on the collimator this year, next year greed takes its place on top of the agenda. I like greed, and I want to look into it. Greed is considered a vice, one of the seven deadly sins in Catholicism. I am in Europe – I keep forgetting this – and European culture is deeply enlaced in Christianity. Greed is a word that I have stumbled upon during the past few weeks when I found myself taking three months to write a paper that I said I could do in three weeks. I could have done it in three weeks. Greed kept me researching and reading, instead of writing I got lost inside my mind and going off in all sorts of tangential adventures. Then at one point I lost a section of the paper that had taken me two days to write, and it was a section that I really liked, but between two different machines, different versions of software, one synchronisation, a memory stick, and a crash of the mac, it was gone. I got greedy! I wanted that piece back, it was in none of the hardware to be found, and somehow I never got to the point of recreating it. My guess is that I never quite let go of the loss, and that blocked me like hanging on to anything always blocks me from writing.

I read my journals from about ten years ago. As a kid I felt needy, ten years ago I was hanging on to life by a very thin thread. To have felt needy as a kid is very strange given the circumstances to which I was born. Poverty, from the preaching in catechism, sounded somewhat romantic. I was shocked to learn that I was not poor, and it has taken me this long to figure out why on earth I felt so needy all the time. It was a bit like an itchy patch that I kept scratching, I scratched it so much, it bled, but it never quite dawned on me to have a look at the place that I was scratching. This year I took a look at the patch that I had been scratching. There was something on it that I could peel away.

For my own two bits from 2004, I have nameless. It is not light reading, it never was.

Thank you for sharing the adventure.