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PANAMA — thoughts by ollie francis
This morning, I posted the short fiction ’Panama’. These are my thoughts after writing it.
It is one of the wonders of the human brain that to cope with the beautiful excesses of the natural world, we instinctively block them out. We all share an innate filter on the events happening around us. We decide what is and what is not important to our immediate needs and tend to ignore the rest; or, at least, hide it away somewhere in the back of our minds within a mental filing cabinet in a disused conceptual lavatory with a metaphorical sign on the door saying ‘beware of the leopard’.
The alternative is a hyperbolic autism, where every note of conversation, every dust mote in our eye line, every echo of every footstep is counted, logged and analysed for meaning. Hell is counting every loop in your Harris tweed; ignorance is bliss.
One of the unfortunate side-effects of this system is the tendency for us to treat the events of the day as ordinary when, all too often, they are nothing of the sort. It is only with the advantage of hindsight that we begin to place significance on the very events our brains so diligently block on our behalf. It is only when we are living with the after-effects that we recognise the cause; it is only when we see the photograph that we remember the fun; it is only when the hand has gone that we miss its touch on our hair at night.
When we are in the moment, we often miss the moment — or, at least, fail to give it the importance it has when we look back on it. It is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can join the dots and see just how monumental that afternoon, that kiss, that moment of recognition really was in the bigger story of our lives.
As the news of the Panama Papers emerged towards the start of this week, I found myself drawn towards one moment within the pages of controversy and outrage. Amongst all the details of Putin’s money machinations was a throw-away line about one of the scheme’s lawyers, a man called Baumgartner. The Guardian article said Baugartner would travel to Moscow five or six times a year. ‘When he shot wild boar with a client,’ it tells us, ‘the boar did not stand much of a chance: the two men blasted at them from the door of a helicopter.’ I found myself thinking of the pilot, wondering what he could have thought of it all. I wondered if there would be any sense of an end to the excess, a change in the winds.
I don’t know if the Panama Papers are a wind as much as a gentle breeze. My skepticism tells me that the rich and power would need more than a few unethical money transfers to be brought down from their eagle’s nests. But I also don’t want to fall into the mistake of ignoring the present and only appreciating today when I look back on it from the future.
I want to learn to look at today with the hindsight of the tomorrow.
Read the original fiction ‘Panama’
Originally published on Tumblr