Published on ShanghaiDaily.com (http://www.shanghaidaily.com/)
THIS letter, written by Vietnamese immigrant Ha Minh Thanh working in
Fukushima as a policeman to a friend in Vietnam, was
posted on New America Media on March 19. It is a testimonial to the
strength of the Japanese spirit, and an interesting slice of
life near the epicenter of Japan 's crisis at the Fukushima nuclear
power plant. It was translated by NAM editor Andrew Lam,
author of "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres." Shanghai
Daily condensed it.
How are you and your family? These last few days, everything was in
chaos. When I close my eyes, I see dead bodies. When I open my eyes, I
also see dead bodies.
Each one of us must work 20 hours a day, yet I wish there were 48
hours in the day, so that we could continue helping and rescuing
We are without water and electricity, and food rations are near zero.
We barely manage to move refugees before there are new
orders to move them elsewhere.
I am currently in Fukushima , about 25 kilometers away from the nuclear
power plant. I have so much to tell you that if I could
write it all down, it would surely turn into a novel about human
relationships and behaviors during times of crisis.
People here remain calm - their sense of dignity and proper behavior
are very good - so things aren't as bad as they could
be. But given another week, I can't guarantee that things won't get
to a point where we can no longer provide proper protection
They are humans after all, and when hunger and thirst override
dignity, well, they will do whatever they have to do. The
government is trying to provide supplies by air, bringing in food and
medicine, but it's like dropping a little salt into the
Brother, there was a really moving incident. It involves a little
Japanese boy who taught an adult like me a lesson on how to
behave like a human being.
Last night, I was sent to a little grammar school to help a charity
organization distribute food to the refugees. It was a long line that
snaked this way and that and I saw a little boy around 9 years old. He
was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts.
It was getting very cold and the boy was at the very end of the line.
I was worried that by the time his turn came there wouldn't
be any food left. So I spoke to him. He said he was at school when the
earthquake happened. His father worked nearby and was
driving to the school. The boy was on the third floor balcony when he
saw the tsunami sweep his father's car away.
I asked him about his mother. He said his house is right by the beach
and that his mother and little sister probably didn't make
it. He turned his head and wiped his tears when I asked about his
The boy was shivering so I took off my police jacket and put it on him.
That's when my bag of food ration fell out. I picked it
up and gave it to him. "When it comes to your turn, they might run
out of food. So here's my portion. I already ate. Why don't
you eat it?"
The boy took my food and bowed. I thought he would eat it right away,
but he didn't. He took the bag of food, went up to where
the line ended and put it where all the food was waiting to be
I was shocked. I asked him why he didn't eat it and instead added it to
the food pile. He answered: "Because I see a lot more
people hungrier than I am. If I put it there, then they will
distribute the food equally."
When I heard that I turned away so that people wouldn't see me cry.
A society that can produce a 9-year-old who understands the concept of
sacrifice for the greater good must be a great
society, a great people.
Well, a few lines to send you and your family my warm wishes. The hours
of my shift have begun again.
Ha Minh Thanh
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Have you ever felt afraid?
Of course, duh, you say (or think as you read this). What a silly question!
Of course you’ve felt fear. You and I both know that. But, fear is a masterful disguise artist, one who appears in so many different forms that often, he goes unrecognized. By you. And me, of course.
To be sure, you and I have, at some point or other, probably been afraid of
- not having enough money
- suffering some terrible illness
- being betrayed or taken for granted
- feeling lonely
- losing someone we love
- public speaking
- failing at something e.g. an exam or job application/interview
- being attacked or molested or abused
I’m sure the list could go on. But, what about the things that seem so insignificant and arise so surreptitiously in the course of our daily lives that we don’t even recognize them as experiences of fear?
Like the fear of getting my lovely watch wet if I chose to walk in the rain, which incidentally, I did yesterday? Walk home in the rain, that is, having first taken the precaution of tucking my watch into my backpack :)
Or the fear of what might happen if I didn’t get in touch with my daughter on the weekend?
Or the fear of making custard that was lumpy?
Or the fear of wasting my life away?
You see, the difference between these fears and the ones in my list is that the former are more fleeting. They arise as thoughts and feelings that are often quickly overridden by other more immediate demands on my attention or more immediate action (which may simply mask or suppress the fear rather than deal with it).
It’s not that the ones in my list never leave my conscious attention. They do. But they are so strong and persistent that I’m assured they’ll return sooner or later. And, morbid as this may sound, it is almost reassuring!
I know I’ll get a chance to tackle them or to at least acknowledge that they are *real* and potentially dangerous. In other words, they’re not hidden from me and, to that extent, I feel I have some control. Not over them, necessarily but in relation to them, whatever that means.
But the more subtle, fleeting, inconspicuous fears that stream through my mind, like the fear I had of getting my writing out of the way before my friend, J, turned up this afternoon – afraid that he might see it on my computer screen. Not something I would have wanted as it was rather personal stuff.
Being aware of this fear and realizing, not for the first time, that there are so many of these types of unrecognized fears that are forever flushing through my mind and spirit made we wonder how much erosion they actually cause.
The big, recognizable fears are potentially erosive, I don’t doubt. But at least I am aware of them and can take steps to deal with them. But these little, silent fear experiences that I am only momentarily aware of do cause damage. Rather like odorless fly sprays or roach bombs.
Over time, they cause me to attempt less, be wary of more, feel less free and settle for a whole lot less in life. I know this to be true when I reflect over my life and consider the things I’ve avoided doing, the friends I’ve avoided making, the opportunities I’ve passed on and the things I’ve chosen to be skeptical about.
Collectively, they have prevented me from living fully and freely. Damn!
So today, upon the most recent recognition of a fear, I asked myself:
If I didn’t have this fear, what would I be doing right now? And how would I be feeling?
I can tell you I felt exhilarated by my answers :)
How about you? Are there any subtle, masterfully disguised, surreptitious fear bombs that you have been (momentarily) aware of? Do you think they have eroded the quality of your life? What have you done about them? Do you think that just because they are fleeting, they have little effect?
I’d love to know, as always :)
Monday, March 14, 2011
I’ve noticed something and wonder if you have too. Increasingly, disasters, whether *natural* or *man-made* are broadcast on television rather like entertainment.
The repeated images, the attention-grabbing headlines and promotional taglines, the entertainment style delivery by newsreaders and program announcers of news bulletins charged with superlatives and provocative metaphors, the ticker-tape, so-called up-to-the-minute, yet repetitive, bite-sized, twitter-type news updates at the bottom of your screen…
You’d be forgiven if you thought it was information you simply could not afford to miss. And by golly, they don’t let you. Well, as long as you have your television on.
Let’s be fair here, you can turn the darn thing off. And I do. But when I do turn it on once a day to see the news (not an entirely unreasonable thing to do, wouldn't you agree?), I am offended by the treatment of seriously catastrophic news as if it were entertainment. I mean, one rarely has time for dramatic pauses and marketing worthy headlines and scripts when one sees tragedy or is sincerely and respectfully reporting it.
The tragedy itself draws our attention and our somber regard and empathy for those involved. There seems neither need nor place for the kind of melodramatic broadcasts that one expects and gets in the promotion of entertainmen. In fact, I think it’s downright disrespectful and objectionable.
Worse still, with all this kind of *reporting* and *broadcasts*, I find myself actually morbidly looking forward to the next worse catastrophe that is feared to unfold.
‘How many more people will have died? 19 is too small a toll for a disaster of this proportion.’
‘Can we see images of people affected by the nuclear plant explosion? I wonder what they will look like?’
‘Oh, wow, look at the height of that tidal wave! Oh, look at those boats crashing into each other! Oh, gosh, look at all those cars floating in the water and the trucks just tumbling over like tonka trucks’.
Are these some of my thoughts and reactions?
Yes, they are. But some of them (like the ‘tonka truck’ analogy) have been found fit to be broadcast.
How different is watching disaster reportage on television to watching an action movie or thriller? Or people playing violent video games?
Are you similarly affected by this as I am? What are your thoughts?
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Che, I’m sorry, but I’ve searched the internet and I couldn’t find anything you’d *written* dated 1972. I did come across a heap of other interesting stuff about you though.
What exactly did you look for?
Well…something that someone would have been inspired by you to write, I guess. Something profound, about life, meaning, existence, the big questions….you know.
Actually, I don’t, but go ahead, tell me. What are these *big* questions that you think are so big and important? That, from the way you’ve been speaking so far, seems to be man’s overriding preoccupation?
(I’m a little aghast. Surely, he must know? Surely he’s grappled with them himself? Is he teasing or testing me? He does look genuinely serious, though. I shift uneasily in my seat and he seems to sense my floundering confidence).
Hey, listen. I’m not testing you although teasing you is, shall we say, becoming rather enjoyable (he smiles). But seriously, this is not one of those occasions. I am profoundly interested in what you consider the *big questions*.
But Che, you must know what they are! (I am feeling a little frustrated and puzzled at the same time). I mean, you must have been preoccupied with them yourself! I know you were!
You assume I was…
Are you telling me…
Wait, let me finish.
(He takes a deep breath and gives a long sigh).
When you observe a man’s actions, you assume that he has put a lot of thought into it. Sure, there are some actions that a man performs that you immediately condemn or dismiss as *mindless* but, for now, let’s leave those ones aside. Let’s instead concentrate on the actions that we generally conclude have been well considered and thought through and which are performed as a result of deliberate choice and intent.
(He sighs again. It is as if this topic has caused him considerable difficulty).
You have to understand something here. There are many forces at work in bringing about the culmination of thought and intent and performed as action.
No, I didn’t say that well enough. Let me try again. There are many forces that shape and influence what we observe as a man’s actions AND as many forces that shape and influence our observation of such actions.
Now, I know you may be thinking that I haven’t said anything that you don’t already know but you may be surprised.
(He interrupts himself to draw on his cigar. After what seems to be an unbearably long pause, he continues).
A man’s actions are never his own. Never.
(I allow that idea to permeate my mind, desperately hoping to experience an earth-shattering epiphany. So far, there is none).
Listen mi amiga fiel (my faithful friend), what you see as life’s contradictions are really life’s resolutions. The burden of humanity is unloaded through man’s actions. Man must act for without acting, the burden of his humanity becomes unbearable.
And what we observe as the action of an individual is in fact the collective act of humanity which unfairly places on the individual sole responsibility for what is in fact its collective act. Can you understand this?
(Whoa!!! This is huge, I think to myself, and yes, it does make sense but…)
Are you saying that a man, an individual, cannot be held responsible for his or her actions?
No, I’m saying that she or he cannot be held SOLELY responsible for his or her actions.
But if that were the case, does it not imply that a person, an individual, can never claim to be the sole author of his thoughts and the sole maker of whatever decisions or choices he makes?
I mean, I think that you’re saying that we don’t really have free will, that we can never and have never been able to make completely unilateral decisions or choices. And if that were true, why, I’m not sure I want to continue doing this.
I mean, if there is no point at all, no matter how small and how far into the depths of consciousness I’ve got to go to reach it, at which I can stand and claim that this is purely MY thought and MY intention and MY choice, then what would be the bloody point of MY life????
(I am feeling terribly agitated to the point of panic almost. This is just sooooooo not right, soooooooooo meaningless, sooooooooooo pointless).
Mi querido amiga fiel, mi mas querido amiga feil, (my dear faithful friend, my dear, dear faithful friend), I understand your disenchantment. I truly do. I felt the same way too when I first had this realization. I wanted to destroy the whole world (not just this planet) and spit and vomit and piss in god’s face.
What kind of a fucking cosmic joke was he playing on us??? What kind of a fucking joke was my fucking mind playing on me for after all, I was a fucking atheist!!!
God??? What a loser he was and who could possibly be attracted to him other than mother-fucking losers??? And I sure as hell wasn’t a mother-fucking loser.
(Despite the rising panic and disillusion that was searing my mind, I could feel the sincerity and honesty of his words)
(He paused with a deep and long sigh before continuing)
Please (looking at me tenderly), don’t cry. Give this some time. I promise you, you’ll understand. It will make sense…
What if I don’t wish to understand? What if this is something that I don’t wish to understand because it doesn’t deserve my understanding? It fucking doesn’t deserve my understanding! In fact, I’d say it doesn’t deserve anyone’s understanding! To understand this would be to give up, to cop out. I might as well slit my throat and die.
(Speaking quietly and tenderly) And that is what you must do. You must die.
(I decide that silence and sullenness are my best response at this point. This whole idea is outrageous. Preposterous. Downright disrespectful. I want to be angry with him but for some reason I can’t. I think I realize, on some level, that what he’s said is not his personal, individual understanding but the understanding of all of humanity, of existence. Fuck! This is exactly his point, isn’t it?)
I told you you’d understand (He’s smiling somewhat cautiously. I think he’s trying to be sensitive).
(I’m fighting back a smile. My mind is trying to hold on to my resentment but I can sense it’s losing the battle. I’m shaking my head and smiling and covering my eyes with my hand as if I’m embarrassed by the realization that he is right while he peers at me, making no attempt to hide his amusement. Fuck, fuck and triple fuck!).
(We both break into big smiles).
I think this calls for a celebration, don’t you? Come on, I’ll take you to my favourite bar.
(I sigh deeply, feeling a tense mixture of relief, reluctance and resignation).
Friday, March 4, 2011
I’ll tell you what hurts. What makes me what to spit blood. It’s the loss of human dignity. It’s seeing that peasant trawling through his own excrement, hoping against any semblance of sanity to find something to keep him and his family alive for one more day.
There’s nothing glorifying about that. It’s dehumanizing. Even dogs don’t do that.
When a man has to do that, when he is reduced to such a level of existence, he must know that life is simply not worth living. He must be prepared to give that life up. Anything is better than living that kind of life, a subhuman life.
I can feel your anger as if it were exploding through the universe. It’s not as loud as thunder or blinding as lightning but it feels more deadly. Hearing you speak of it and I too find it loathsome, something that I feel I shouldn’t tolerate.
(Seething and heaving, eventually falling into a brooding, dark mood, shoulders bent over as tears slowly trickle down his cheeks. When he speaks, it’s quiet and laboured by the lumps in his throat)
The Spirit wants to flee such a man for it will not allow itself such indignity. It will sacrifice that body for such a body is no longer human. It will chase after something grand, much, much grander than what this human body and this human brain are prepared to put up with. It will not lower itself and rightly so.
I have learned since discarding my body, since living here, that ignorance and corruption are the causes of indignity.
But I thought you always knew that. Wasn’t it what you…
I always thought I knew and this is such a dangerous thing. More dangerous than weapons and revolutions, the one thing that destroys a man and insults him and his fellow human beings is thinking and believing that *he knows*.
He doesn’t know a fuck.
(Seconds pass, perhaps a whole minute or two as I wait in my own shock and rising despair, wait for him to lift the hopelessness of his words with some joyful, promising revelation. But he remains silent and when he finally speaks again, he has moved on to something else).
You must understand people. At least you must try and understand them.
(I wait for him to continue).
By understanding people, you begin to understand the vastness of yourself. And the smallness. A man looks to another man for self-comprehension. He cannot begin to comprehend himself if he were to live in isolation for in isolation, he is reduced to one single point, like a singularity, unable to see himself, feel himself, taste or hear himself.
This is why and how existence came into being. From that one singularity, that dense, infinitesimal point, broke out all of life as it has been evolving. And to sit in yourself without the knowledge or care for the others around you, the other things around you, animals and sky and plant and fish and so on, is to completely lack understanding of who you are. It is to live in utter and ultimate ignorance.
But people do, I want to say, but I remain silent.
Do you know that children in Cuba start their day at school by invoking my spirit? They say that they wish to have the spirit of adventure that I had.
Yes, I read that in Wikipedia.
(He laughs genuinely tickled by the fact that Wikipedia has become the world’s most frequently and readily accessed *authority* on any subject.)
You are a fool (he smiles at me) but I like fools far more than I like people who think they know it all.
Didn’t you think you knew it all?
Okay, I can see we’re coming full circle. This is something we skirted around earlier. You’ve got to understand something. There is a difference between acting with certainty and acting with conviction.
Certainty is a dead end. You can’t go beyond it. You might as well stop breathing. But conviction, ah, she is the ultimate seductress.
I thought certainty and conviction have a lot to do with each other, I think to myself while waiting for him to explain.
You see, conviction urges you on without telling you exactly where you’re going. All you know is that you’ve got to keep going, your very life depends on it. Life would be utterly barren and hopeless without it.
And you keep going, no matter how exhausted you get, even when you can’t breathe anymore. You just keep going. The fire’s in your belly. You know, and this might be the only certain thing about it, that at some point, whether while still breathing or when you’ve finally stopped, you’ll go to bed with her for she’ll be waiting for you.
And I tell you what, there’s a painful comfort in knowing that someone is waiting for you, no matter how long you take.
Why is that?
Why is what?
Why is there comfort and why is it painful?
Because that’s how a man knows he’s returned home. That’s how he reminds himself that he has a home, a place of rest and recuperation. A place of belonging. That’s the comfort. And it’s painful because he knows he’s got to leave his home, his lover’s bed, sooner or later, briefly or lengthily.
(I feel the truth of what he’s said and it is arresting. For a while, there is no where I can move to and no thought that hurries in for my attention. I’m just transfixed in the realization that all of life is a series of leaving home and returning).
You know, one of the perks of being dead, or should I say, non-physical, is that I can actually read people’s minds. Well, not exactly but I do have a more accurate sense of what’s going on in their heads. It’s certainly better than when I was in physical form.
Are you trying to tell me that you can read my mind? Have been reading my mind?
No, I haven’t been reading your mind. Why make my time with you boring? Che! But, when you fell into that long silence just now, I tuned in and yes, I pretty much saw what you were thinking. I’m making no apologies for it so please don’t expect me to.
(Smiling) You know, I’m actually flattered that you’d take the trouble with me!!! I mean, who am I for you to take an interest in!
Okay, so you must understand what a moron is. I’m not a moron. The fact that I’ve spent the last hour or so talking to you should at least explain that I think you’re worth talking to. And if you’re worth talking to, then surely it’s worth knowing what you’re thinking especially when you fall into an uncharacteristic silence like you just did.
Yes, yes, I know, silence with you is not uncharacteristic. Okay, let’s make this simple. I was getting bored listening to myself, so I tuned in to you to hear what was going on in your head. Okay? Does that satisfy you?
(Smiling) Sure. To tell the truth, anything you say would satisfy me.
Hmm… another dangerous point of view but I’ll let it pass for now. I’m more interested in your realization.
Yes, that life is a series of leaving home and returning.
(Nodding my head) Yeah, it is, I’ve come to realize.
And how does that make you feel?
Don’t you know? I mean, you’ve tuned in after all!
Oh, hey, I don’t stay tuned in longer than I need to or want to. It’s much more fun hearing your voice and hearing what you have to say.
But I’ve not been speaking, not with my mouth.
Yes, but your mental voice is a lot like your physical voice, only with a bit of echo. There’s plenty of empty space (ha ha ha) between your ears, you know.
You are quite a tease. (I’m laughing)
I like you. You’ve got what it takes.
To do what?
To be human.
You know, for some reason that sounds really bizarre. *I’ve got what it takes to be human*. It kinda suggests that there’s a possibility I might not have been human, that I might have been a glow worm or a piece of igneous rock or something.
(Nodding and chewing) You got that right.
You’re being serious, aren’t you?
Dead. You know when people are sick? When they get really sick and fade in and out of consciousness? They’re making deals with their souls. They’re deciding whether they want to continue in physical form or not and what kind of physical form too.
How do you know that?
I’ve been there myself. And since being non-physical, I’ve been tuning in to people who’ve been in the process of making deals. And besides, when I was treating sick people, I could sense it then too.
This is spinning me out. I mean, why would a person choose to be an igneous rock or an ant? And by choosing it, would they have to settle for the expected life span too? I mean, a rock is gonna be around for a heck of a long time and an ant is gonna get trampled on or sprayed into oblivion pretty quickly.
Oh dear, now you’re actually starting to get boring. I’m sorry, perhaps I’ve dealt with these questions to death that they’re all pretty much textbook information. Entirely boring facts. So please excuse me if I’d rather talk about something else right now. Perhaps another day, if you can catch me in my sleep, I’ll be able to give you all your answers without losing sleep over it (like my irony???).
Right now, though, I’m still curious about your realization. How do you feel about the realization that life is about leaving home and returning again and again and again until perhaps you get tired of it all and you decide to pull the plug from the physical world?
How do you feel about that?
You know, Che, this is what I find interesting – the fact that I don’t think it’s a big deal. When you first said it and when I first realized it, it seemed like such a revelation, a big Wow. But now, it just seems pretty ho-hum, you know?
Yeah, we’re constantly leaving some place comfortable and moving toward some place less comfortable, new, different etcetera. After a while, it gets comfortable and we move again and so on and so on. (Shrugging my shoulders). Yep, that’s what happens. It’s been happening from day one and will continue to. I’m afraid I don’t find anything mouth-wateringly exciting about that. Mundane, almost.
You might need to read something I wrote about existence.
Because I think that this is one thing you really need to get excited about. The purpose of being human.
Are you saying that the purpose of being human is to…leave and return home again and again? And I get that you might be speaking metaphorically.
Let me just direct you to what I wrote back in 72.
You were dead in 72.
I was non-physical in 72, yes. And now, in 2011, I’m writing, che? Or at least, speaking, che?
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The world doesn’t need a hero. People don’t need heroes. They need heroic ideas and ideals.
But a hero inspires people, motivates them, gives them the courage to do what they would ordinarily not dare and to hope for and aspire to what they ordinarily would never think to do.
Yes, a hero does that but all such heroes are short lived. Sooner or later, they die or people get disenchanted with them. Or they themselves change.
Always. I became more impassioned, more extreme, more intolerant. And few could keep up with that. I’m not even sure that I did. But sometimes, you get on a trajectory and its momentum gives you little chance of escape or pause.
Which is why the only hero worth having, the only hero that will outlast any other hero and that you can personally hold to account, is the hero within you. That’s what people need – the awakening of the hero within themselves.
But you have to be careful and understand this well. Such a hero doesn’t match the fairy-tale images that people are so romantically and helplessly drawn to. On the contrary, the hero within is ambiguous, difficult to pin down at times and at other times, blindingly clear and impassioned.
Can you live with such a hero? Are you ready to go to battle under his or her direction? Will you be prepared to go to bed with him or her every single night no matter how badly she has behaved or how mad she has caused you to feel? That’s a question that you really need to answer if you are serious about heroes.
So, were you your own hero?
How can I say? Sometimes, it felt like I knew exactly who my hero was. There was no confusion. But, at times I had to be the hero and he had to lie down and take orders from me. Now that was confusing.
You cannot be serious, right?
I am deadly serious (laughing). You see, this is our problem. This has been our problem since the beginning of time. We want clear cut distinctions. We want black or white but nothing in between. We want precision, exactly this or exactly that. We cannot, simply cannot tolerate ambiguity, plurality. It’s always got to be this or that.
And that’s bad?
Of course it’s bad! The world isn’t made that way. Heroes aren’t built that way. We are children if we cannot wake up from our fairy tales and take on the world as it really is. And until we do, it’s going to piss on us and we’re going to keep hating it for doing that. You see, we can’t stand the smell of our own piss.
I don’t know what to think. I’m a little upset. I don’t know exactly why but I guess I expected something better, grander, earth-shattering, the ultimate, irrefutable answer, I guess, though to be honest, I don’t think I even had a question to start with (shaking my head, feeling lost and puzzled).
Let me try and put some perspective here. You thought I was and wanted me to be the hero, the one with the answer to everything, the god-answer. The answer that would once and for all and for ever put an end to any kind of questioning and doubt. An answer you would know with every fiber in your muscles was the ultimate truth. You expected that from me.
And my qualification for this? For being able to, in your estimation, provide such an answer? That I was a hero once upon a time and, yes, let’s face it, I still am to some. So, in your mind, a hero must have the ultimate answer, the ultimate truth. Oh, and I forgot to mention.
There is another reason why you expected me to have this god-answer. The simple, perhaps sometimes overlooked fact that I am dead. Well, at least physically dead. And for some reason, in your mind, dead people have answers that living people don’t seem to have.
Look, I know this may sound like I’m having a go at you and I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t but teasing aside, it’s true. Many people believe that dead people have answers to difficult questions that physically alive people don’t seem to have.
Perhaps (drawing on his cigar), they believe that dead people have access to god or greater access to god and I know that for you, god is the all-encompassing source of all there is including or should I say, which is really all the information that is and ever was and ever will be.
So, yes, if you believe that dead people have greater access to god, then of course it makes sense that you would expect dead people, or at least certain dead persons to have all the answers and the god-answer. It makes sense, let’s not fart-arse around that.
Yep, you’re right. That’s exactly how it is. But, Che, the strange thing is I don’t even know why I started talking to you. I mean, what did I think I would gain by talking to you? But I can tell you this: I wanted to. It wasn’t something that I’d thought about or planned. Perhaps I was just drawn into your field.
Does it matter? Do you have to know why? Isn’t it enough that we’re having this conversation? You know how many people would give their finger nails for this? I mean have them painfully extracted from….
I get the picture (smiling) and yes, I know how amazing it is to be able to have you all to myself but that’s why I want to make sure I don’t squander this opportunity, you know? I mean, if there was something really important, really deep and meaningful that I wanted to talk to you about and I’m unable to because I’ve forgotten what it was, oh for crying out loud, that would be…
Hey, listen. Sometimes, you got to remember that the open ended conversation can be the most revealing and revolutionary conversation because you have a wide, open Havana that you can explore in any direction, not just one or two, you know?
Yes, I do. And, of course, it’s silly that I seem to have dismissed the value of the conversation we’ve had so far. I mean, it really is amazing.
Hmm…(chewing on his cigar).
I know, you’re thinking that there’s so much I already know but…I don’t know, you think that despite knowing all that I do, I’m still looking to you for some kind of confirmation or further revelation…I don’t know…perhaps I’m finding what I know just a little too bland, not enough sizzle and pop, you know? I mean, the world must have an infinitely grander meaning and purpose and explanation than what I seem to have, you know?
Actually, that was not at all what I was thinking though I agree, it would make our struggle and suffering and angst worth it if the purpose was well, mind-blowing, if you like.
So what were you thinking?
How cigars taste the same here as they did where you are.
We both are, smiling silently, that is, contented with our conversation. I, of course, am wondering if I’ll chat with him again. I’m still plagued by physical world realities like access (would such a prominent person have time for me?), self-esteem (would he want to speak again with a ‘nobody’ like me?) and purpose (would I find it useful talking to him now that he’s pretty much told me that that there are no mind-blowing answers).
Yes, yes and yes, he says.