Beijing It would have been late in the States, but it was midday in China as we watched the news and constant speculation that Saddam Hussein was quite possibly being transferred from American to Iraqi hands in preparation for his execution. There is an other worldly quality in seeing what passes for “breaking news” when one is sitting in the future watching people prepare for the past. The speculation was that before dawn, Saddam could die. We were watching the snow fall in Beijing as events went the way that they were forced to proceed for reasons unclear to anyone here.
Last year we were barely past Katrina at this time of the year. We were in the central highlands of Mexico between Zacatecas and Aguas Calientas glad to be in the dry and high. We were hoping at the New Year to be back home and back in the office with enough construction done that we could start to rebuild the world we remembered.
The year before we were in Madrid riveted to the tragedy of the tsunami and soaring estimates that were realized in horror as hundreds of thousands died in the walls of water.
These are tough times of the year for people. There is certain nostalgia for simply making resolutions with or without ever meaning to keep them, rather than being caught in the shadow of events bigger than we could imagine.
We will spend New Year’s Eve traveling backwards. Leaving early from Beijing to Tokyo again, spending much of day in Narita Airport, and then catching back up with time flying across the world back to New Orleans by 6 PM. In some ways such a bubble allows our crew to be insulated enough to think about what needs to be done in the coming year. We have time to spend in an aluminum cocoon to sort out the lists for many tomorrows.
And to wish everyone a great, successful, and safe New Year!
December 30, 2006