Monday, April 19, 2021

Counting Backwards

Am I so sure that no one has anything to teach me? But years, years have past, and no book has done better than wake a thin, knowing smile. "Oh yes. That notion. Yes, nicely put." I admire the shine, maybe, or the labor. But the thought? Or the life it bodies forth? Nah. The idea, particularly, that any 21st Century American would have anything useful to say seems especially absurd. What could anyone who grew up in this absurd travesty of a nation have to say, but "Get out if you can"?

But it leaves me stupid, and getting stupider. Stupidity fairly oozes from me, these days. Dull ignorance and prejudice. I grow brittle. I roam my little spaces and think my my old stupid thoughts. The sky is a little airless cap over my little airless neighborhood. I count, and count, and count: the number of breaths since I started trying to sleep; the seconds until I take my eggs off the stove, the eighths of inches my waist has grown or shrunk, the number of pull ups done today. Sometimes I count backwards: from thirty to zero, while I wait for the oximeter to stabilize its numbers. For the novelty and piquancy of it. That's how large the sphere of my mental operations has become.

This is where some extravagant meditation on natural beauty is supposed to come in: some memory of Mt Hood seen over the railyards at sunset, or the glowing fume of a waterfall before it drops into the deep green shadow of the Columbia Gorge. Really? I'm going to address this stupidity with images borrowed from picture postcards? Is anyone disposed to believe in that? Certainly I'm not.

All right. So that's my state of mind. And my body? My back is totally borked, as it has not been in years. I had thought I was done with that affliction, but here it is again. And it gives the lie to the dreams of immortality I've been indulging of late: dreams of becoming so very healthy, so lean and fit, fasted and refitted, that I simply never decay. Such nonsense. 9% life extension in female mice: that is not immortality, Mr Favier. That's another couple years of being an elderly male primate. If it translates at all.

Well, "these are complaints enough to dampen the merriest feast": but where do I come in? Because I'm here too. Not quite extinguished, not yet. There's sometimes a moment, when I'm lighting a candle, when I can't tell: the flame of the match has been cowed by the candlewick, but the wick hasn't yet kindled. Have I lit the candle, or extinguished the match? I have to wait a second to find out. Sometimes it's one, sometimes the other. But not being able to see the flame for a moment doesn't mean it isn't there. And if the match has gone out, then -- I get another match out of the box and try again.

To say that there's something missing is to assert that there's something to be missed, nicht? You can't have it both ways. If there's nothing to be missed, then get the hell over it. If there is something to be missed, then get out and look for it. Bitching and moaning is not going to help.

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