my dentist, of all people, proposed a theory today while finishing up another highway construction project in my mouth. (what could i say?)we had been talking about how old demented dying fathers invariably reported dead relatives paying them a routine visit, or mistook us for other (often dead) relations. we just assume their malfunctioning neurons aren’t firing or connecting properly anymore, and they’re delusional. but my dentist (who was my father’s partner for years, and knew him well) suggested that perhaps the brain and body are preparing the person for death. suppose said person, while he was still lucid, had written notes to himself, alerting himself to this phenomenon, for just such an occasion, and his children confronted him with these notes to try to disabuse him of his delusions. instead of helping snap him back to reality, my dentist proposed that it might disrupt the brain’s natural transitional process toward death. it’s not a scientific theory, just a guess, but it could make sense. maybe the dying person’s brain is better left alone to see the process through. on the other hand, this is the same dentist who maintains that his kids are his insurance policy, to take care of him when he gets to that stage. to which i countered, that’s a stage i hope i personally never live to inflict upon my son. i couldn’t put him or anyone through this. maybe i’ll just hang out with all the crazy dead people. just remind me i said that when it comes my turn.
it has fallen to me by default, to be the lone voice of negativity in a stream of cheery posts by almost everyone else about mirthful partying with friends to ring out a good year. so why should i stop now, at some arbitrary change of date? which good year was that? in which alternate universe? though it’s really me that’s existing in a surreal vacuum at a remote outpost in someone else’s space.i almost don’t remember what it’s like to have a life, with live people, having normal, lifelike experiences. i suppose you could call what i’m doing real life, in that it’s what eventually befalls many of us, and you can’t avoid it. maybe everything up until this stage was just trying frantically, and often misguidedly, to pack in as much living as possible before it all gets shot to hell. but you don’t see it coming, so you’re never prepared. and i’m beginning to wonder if it’s even possible to prepare, with so much working against us in this system we perpetuate. but no one wants to read more depressing crap like this, when there’s still so much living and partying to be done. and i was one of you, so i don’t blame you. sometimes i think it’s some kind of demented retribution for all the ways i screwed up in life, coming back at me. that is, if there were some kind of cosmic intelligence or consciousness in the universe, doling out some kind of perverse justice, i guess i’d have it coming. or maybe it’s just physics. or entropy. disorder! chaos! wee! paranoid chaos and disorder: my dreams are full of it! i have to make myself wake up to a more manageable everyday bad dream. to change my state of mind, i’d have to delve deeper into the sickening recesses of childhood trauma and consequent deviation, and guilt, and face a lot more demons and rage and remorse. eww, as they say. if recurrent nightmares are any indication of how twisted my brain still is, better not to go back down there. better to just keep moving, doing my best to not screw up too badly going forward. and try to ignore how inadequate, mortified, and crushed this role makes me feel. well. it’s what you’ve come to expect from this blahger, and we don’t disappoint! honestly, i wish i could be more optimistic. or at least funnier. it’s hard not to be morbid, when you’re surrounded by the breakdown of everything you’re supposed to be able to count on, whether human, material, or philosophical. and you feel like it’s all on you to keep it together another day. though, to be fair, in my case i have brothers who came through and helped distribute the load, without which i couldn’t have done it. many people don’t even have that. i’m not so egocentric as to imagine it’s just me alone going through stuff like this. or that others don’t have it much worse. i see human horror every day, whether personally, or around me in the world. i realize each of us has our own insecurities and adversities, just as real and overwhelming at times. and more and more of us have fewer of the fallbacks and safety nets we used to depend on when catastrophic events, or just unavoidable misfortune, throw us at the mercy of cold, harsh reality. i’m just more aware of the downside more of the time now, without the old illusion of time on my side, or wishful thinking. or even just the old notion that the most well-planned investment and saving could ever be enough. i’d like to pretend it’s all zen-like, the detachment from human pursuits one used to hold onto for security. but all the anxiety and depression sort of give me away. i haven’t reached that pinnacle yet. when i do, i’ll start dispensing tips from on high, like all the other pretenders. stay tuned… while you’re not holding your breath, here’s something more mundane i could suggest to those who don’t know how to help someone in distress: just keep the lines open. sometimes one feels nervous or inadequate around people such as mourners, cancer patients, ptsd victims, etc., like they’re unapproachable due to the enormity or complexity of their issues. beyond platitudes, we don’t know how to express genuine empathy or help them. here’s how: just let them know you’re still there. keep the lines of communication open. let them know they’re still in your world, and not a leper, or a ghost. that’s all. we’re all just trying to feel like we’re still alive to somebody, and there’s still some life beyond devastation. otherwise we may as well be already dead.