Posts Tagged ‘thomas mann’

I could never go through what you’re going through…”

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I’ve heard this comment from friends and family and even strangers for five years now and it always makes me uncomfortable. Something’s off with it; somehow the sentiment just doesn’t ring true.

Thanks to Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain – I’m carrying out my vow to re-read this magnificent and complicated book – I’m learning why the remark causes such unease. I think I understand how the words do not say what they are meant to say.

It’s meant to be a kindness, even a salute. “I don’t know how you do it! I couldn’t,” someone will say to those of us fighting chronic illness or life-or-death health battles. Our treatments, our pain, the unending doctor visits and hospitalizations – they seem unendurable, impossible to someone looking at it all from the healthy “outside”. (more…)

Missing Magic Mountain (no, not the theme park)

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Lots of 19th century “innovations” are gone for good reason: horse-drawn wagons, the Saturday bath, walking across continents, surgery without anesthesia… novelties like these are lamented by no one except history buffs and masochists.

But one 19th century institution missing from our world is a true loss: the health retreat. Back in the day they were called sanatoriums: resorts set up for the “improvement or maintenance of health, especially for convalescents.” Today the  idea of withdrawing from life to recover a bit health is so odd that most people, hearing the word “sanatorium” translate it as “nut house.”

My oh-so-slow recovery from my latest medical travail makes me long for this old tradition.

I ache to check out of my life for a time and into another, one where meals are prepared and laundry is done and my duties consist of napping, reading, and taking long walks through woods and meadows. (more…)