Hypochondria and Puritanism at 5 a.m.

November 28, 2017 at 12:02 pm (By Amba)

(wanna know what the “young old” think about early in the morning? I didn’t think so. but I’ll expose myself anyway.)

Journal entry, 11/28/2017

I’m scared of my body. I lie awake tuning in to its weird vibrations here and there like someone in a creaky old house, or an earthquake zone. Listening: was that a ghost’s step closer? a tremor?

I know that I’m past three score and ten (which is a real thing, it turns out) and my body could turn on me at any time. So is the tingle in my left big toe the beginning of ALS, or a brain tumor? (It’s probably sciatic nerve compression in my left lower back, where I’ve had sacroiliac pain, or common peroneal nerve irritation in my sore left knee. After yesterday’s amazing ATM [Awareness Through Movement© lesson], which differentiated extension of the lower spine, it vanished for a day. Also, I was walking up and downstairs in a new way that spared my knee.) Is the little string that repeatedly vibrates deep in my pelvis — now in the left groin, now just right of center — a muscle twitch (ALS again!) or an abdominal aortic aneurysm? Is it a reaction to the drastic demands for change and exertion I make on my body? Or have these things always been going on and am I just now attuned and undistracted (i.e. alone) enough to notice them? Who knows? Who cares? Something will get you, sooner or later, you can count on that. The real question is, how can I make use of rather than waste what’s left of my life? Not by lying awake listening to the first tendrils of the flood of mortality finger for cracks, trying the door.

Then too (ambivalence is all!), the “don’t waste your life” meme is so puritanical, and it just rouses its opposite, rebellion, so they are deadlocked. It’s the guilty puritan who wastes his or her life snacking on the couch and beating him/herself up for it. What a bore, “Should!” and “Don’t wanna!” in their endless Punch and Judy show. Superego and subversive soul . . . I was thinking yesterday that an inspired or guided blundering into situations is a richer way to live than setting a Project and plotting a course — the American self-help way. Ignore the landscape, build for the automobile, with its front-facing binocular focus, its blinders on, its headlamps tunneling through the fog to the same death that will claim those who’ve been wandering in the woods exulting shamelessly in their senses . . . But from another point of view, a Project is only a way of getting yourself into some new situations.

I’ve always lived myopically, using all my creativity to respond to, cope with, and understand comprehend whatever — whoever — came close enough for me to see and, better yet, touch. (“Comprehend” holds a better metaphor than “understand”; it’s hands-on.) Now? For the first time in my life, the field ahead and all around is clear, and I have the chance and the challenge to project something of my own onto that blank screen. It is so unaccustomed, and so absurd in the existential sense — undriven by the engine of reproduction and unawaited by any even imaginary expectant throng. Does it matter to me if it doesn’t matter?

I used to think this was what “acte gratuit” meant. What a disappointment to discover that it meant a murder committed for the hell of it — an adolescent male fantasy of the existentialists, a term coined by André Gide. . . . This is weirdly relevant.

The point is, I feel like an adolescent, but I am not. I am a “senescent,” a “moribund.” I don’t have an adolescent’s plausible illusion of unlimited time. I have some unknown but very finite amount of time until the clock inside strikes and my coach turns into a rotting pumpkin. And, maybe because I am abnormally healthy for my age, I can’t quite seem to get it. Is what I have my ear cocked inward for a kick in the ass? Do I need a ticking timer, a hard deadline to race against?

Doing something for someone else (usually editing) drags me back into the lifestream, contextualizes me, and gets my juices flowing. Everything exists in connection, nothing in isolation. Pull one thread and the whole peaks and puckers into a landscape.

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