09 February 2013

doom and hope

I am having one these once (!) in a while days where it seems to be the right thing to just let it happen and not do anything at all. That is, I eventually made it out of bed but only because it got too uncomfortable what with all the bedding tangled up and the cat crawling all over. No, today the message is: rest. How this used to scare the shit out of me when I first got ill. The heavy shoulders and aching chest thing and this dire need to lay down my head. Now I am just glad I don't have to do a thing today. 
And for most of next week which is a holiday week. 
Just that on Tuesday we will spend 4+ hrs driving on the motorway to get to my father's dinner thingy on Wednesday and driving another 4+ hrs on the motorway back home on Thursday. Considering the weather forecast, this could turn out to be a bit of an adventure. Snow and stuff.

The stomach is cranky. I am still at the porridge-without-milk stage with an occasional piece of toast here and there but walking into the kitchen is an otherwise pointless exercise. Coffee is a distant memory and just typing the words peppermint/chamomile tea makes me want to weep with loss.
Right now R is down there clashing with pots and pans, frying up something Spanish - so he claims - for himself.
I hope they serve porridge and toast at the fancy restaurant my father has booked.

In the papers I have been reading the most awful stories, we are doomed. As for the books, I have given the my-grandfather-the-nazi search a break and what do I find? Doom and hope. Yes, doom and hope.

First, the doom (which is all self indulgent and pompous, but then what do you expect from a thriller):

It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative. We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen first hand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the internet.

Whereas, the hope, well, what else is there?

Wade Davis and his team are travelling back by Jeep from an outpost in the Sahara desert, having experienced a freak thunderstorm pounding their camp some nights before. They meet a caravan of six men and 12 camels transporting salt. If salt gets wet, it crumbles and loses all value. So the men had been forced to stop in the desert to dry out the slabs of salt before continuing their journey. They had lost three critical days and were down to their last quart of water, 150 km from the nearest well with a cargo and animals that represented the entire wealth of their families. They knew of a depression some 25 km away that if excavated might yield water and they sent one of their young mates with one camel. And Davis continues:

While we waited for their friend to return, the leader of the party kindled a twig fire and with their last reserve of water offered us tea. It is said in the Sahara that if a stranger turns up at your tent, you will slaughter the last goat that provides the only milk for your children to feast your guests. One never knows when you will be that stranger turning up in the night, cold and hungry, thirsty and in need of shelter. As I watched him pour me a cup of tea, I thought to myself, these are the moments that allow us all to hope.


Ms. Moon said...

Beauty, beauty, beauty. And truth as to that second-hand image thing. Mostly. But in reality, the first-hand image provides things even the best second-hand can't. Such as smell. Even if it's camel dung and desert sand smell, it's real. And the way the air feels. Like that.

Ajax said...

One River by Wade Davis is one of my top five books ever. If you haven't read it, it's a must-read for sure. I haven't read The Wayfinders. Sounds like another engrossing, badass adventure. I'll have to pick it up soon. Wahoo! Thanks!