Damn, I'm still here!* That's what Carlos Cristos says to himself with great joy when he wakes up in the morning. It's in the documentary "Las alas de la vida", which I saw on tv Friday night. The film covers three years in the life of Carlos, a family doctor in Mallorca who is diagnosed with a very rare nervous system disorder that is progressive and fatal. In Spanish the disease is known as "atrofia sistémica múltiple" (AST). They say there are only 800 cases worldwide. The film is really wonderful. Carlos quickly wins over the viewer with his sense of humor and infectious enthusiasm, in spite of living in a rapidly deteriorating body. The disease does not affect his intellect. After the film I got to thinking about routines, the ordinary day to day stuff that we take for granted. Yes, it's a tired cliché, we shouldn't take anything for granted. But true nonetheless. So I guess I'm tremendously lucky because I do get really excited about the most trivial stuff. Last night, for example, I walked downtown to have some coffee with friends. And walking down the Paseo del Parque I thought, wow!, this is great, just walkin' down the street! Step, step, step. Nothin' to it. Then, when I got home, more fun. Earlier yesterday I had signed up for major league baseball's online subscription–the service that allows you to watch all the games on your computer. I put a game on (Cleveland at Toronto), but I wasn't really paying attention and started doing something else in my office. Then I heard the announcer say "and there's a soft grounder to the right side". Can you get any more routine than that? Splendid! How many times in my life have I heard that exact description? Hundreds, at least. Or any other routine expression you hear over and over again in a single game: "strike three", "ball", "a routine fly to center", etc. Great! I can't hear them enough. Because without all that ordinary narration what's really unusual wouldn't make sense. We need the context. If some guy can just report "and that's another walk by...", well, there must be at least a minimum of normalcy, of a sense that the world isn't about to end right now, because if it were I don't think we'd be listening to a ball game. That ball is going, going... Not yet! Coño, si todavía estoy aquí. Gracias, Carlos.
* Anyone who speaks Spanish knows that coño literally means "cunt". It would be ridiculous, of course, to translate that exclamation literally. The ubiquitous presence of coño in the daily speech of most Spaniards is worthy of its own entry.