The Devil and the Details

IMG 0192

2011 was quick, and it was chaotic. The sound track to Hanna (film) by the Chemical Brothers is appropriate for my 2011. That music encapsulates my experience of it. All in all, it is hard to fathom that I survived the year, or that any work at all got done. It is that time of the year again when I pass review on the past year. There was also something about shoe shopping in Munich, a bit of deconstructionism in Berlin, a bit of fractal musing in Hamburg, a touch of reality in Athens, and the reminder of fiction in Bangkok. I started writing this note yesterday sitting in a train and being late to a party, but then I am the most likely in my class to arrive late at my own funeral. The party was good. 2011 is over.

Yesterday, in a book, I came across an old paper air ticket from ten years ago that made me feel that not only has the year gone by quickly, the last decade has also flown by. It is hard to imagine now that I have been in all the places I was be it in the past year, or the past decade. There is however something comforting about not leaving much of a personal trace while making a few lasting changes here and there. Was it it in 2011 that I lectured in Managua? Yes it was. It was also the year that saw me through more emergency rooms and intensive care units than I care to go into any details about. It was also the year when the overflow, saturation, and overburdening with social media got to me and I recalled how very private I have always been. That on Sylvester there was no text message overflow but that Twitter crashed does indicate the shape of our communication trends. For those of you wondering, Facebook is not a good way of getting in touch with me.

But were there lessons in 2011 that I want to note here? Yes!

First there was family, lots of family, and lots of them showed up at my door between hospital stays, while I showed up at their doors to party, indulge in the culinary arts, and to resume my seclusion at the seaside. But there was not just family, there were friends and colleagues, all of whom held my hand in one way or another when I just had no clue if or how my life was going to continue. I had no clue how things were going to turn out, but I also had no anxiety about it. When I was scared and clueless, I said so. At one point while being wheeled to the ICU I grabbed the hand of a nurse and held it tight; somehow that was what I needed. I needed to feel the connection to another human being. It was a stranger, but it did not matter. Connection is not personal, neither is warmth, and it can happen devoid of history while creating one.

Second, I had to confront my own impertinence towards denial. I denied and ignored the symptoms that my body was showing for over ten years until one day last November when a Spanish fellow touched me with expert  hands, and for once, it hurt like hell, and I finally asked why it hurt. The answer left me livid but speechless.  At that point, I knew that there was no option to surgery. Within a few weeks the Spanish fellow with the expert touch got his chance to do a bit of cut and paste with my innards. Life will never be the same again, it can only be much better.

And there were many more lessons. I have written them down. In due time, you will know.

I wonder what surprises 2012 will bring? I liked the question that a colleague asked last week: What are your dreams for 2012?


  1. It was a tough year for you. May the 2012 be sweet and generous to you. And please, take care of your health. I did not know you had such experiencies last year. Receive a hug fron overseas

  2. Thanks @JS for the good wishes. I am on the mend, and although it should not have, it took me by surprise. Actually life is pretty sweet right now. In spite all of it, it was a good year. Hugs are always welcome. All the best to you, today, this week, and for this year.

Comments are closed.