Updated March 5, 2022
Gravestones near our house dating back about 150 years.
A Viking Oath
When my day comes to die
I will not beg for more time, nor will I cry.
I have led a life filled with love and glory.
My Hope is that I leave this world with a smile
And the courage to sing my own death song.
The above quote is from my good friend Mark in Denver, who has steeped himself in Viking lore and culture, and applies that to his life with visible, satisfying, and apparent results.
I do hope I can live up to this Oath when the time comes, although perhaps down the road a bit.
To which I say: "Hah! Easy for a Viking to say, but I'm a somewhat normal - if a bit irregular - human being, and I am in no hurry to embrace the "Big D." (Writing this is my way to "whistle in the dark" so that I am not afraid of the ghosts, goblins, and ghouls lurking in the shadows, unseen, yet experienced).
I prefer to stick around a while and sample the ever-decreasing pleasures which my wife Liz and various doctors permit! Luckily, as is often the case, the pleasure increases in direct proportion to its decreasing availability, if that makes any sense. Another way of saying it is that the less there is of some pleasure (such as living), the more its absence is noted and the appreciation of the pleasure increases. At least that is what all my physics, spiritual, and finance teachers used to say. I also think that it is true.
So, without belaboring the point and whining incessantly, however I describe this feeling, it is growing, increasing in strength, and is more and more affecting my ability to function normally. I can still think appropriately, but this seeming "mass" accompanied by sensitivity to light is beginning to weigh heavily on me.
I had an appointment with my allergy physician last week, received no useful advice (I'm already taking appropriate prescribed medications), had a brain MRI about two years ago (before this feeling developed), and if it is not allergies, then I have hit a dead end, with nothing to do except experience it, which is getting more and more difficult to tolerate.
Okay, enough whining! I have said my piece, or is it peace?
More later, perhaps.
As the old joke goes:
"Other than that, how was your night at the theatre, Mrs. Lincoln?"
(Always the joker, it seems; it is my primary coping mechanism, now that I no longer use alcohol.)
And may I say with all due respect and solemnity:
"It's all good - and that attitude is simply my choice."
- El Loco Secret To Life Number 78
But wait, there's more! Some explanatory background on the subject:
Let us proceed a bit more deeply into that and subsequent periods, with further thoughts, ruminations, and pertinent self-posed questions with few answers, while I am able, willing, and curious. I invite you, the Reader, to stay with me, however cringeworthy or uncomfortable this inner dialogue I am having - that I have decided to share with you - as simply questions without answers, at least yet. Forgive me while I ramble, postulate, inquire, and occasionally deflect and obfuscate.
I value recall whimsically enacting - without an actual intent or instrument or purpose - my own death at around the age of nine. As with most children that age (I think, but am not sure) I was curious about this for a variety of reasons that I cannot particularly remember, but it likely had to do with my living situation, some events that happened around that time, and which are available in "My Journey Toward Peace" which was initially a personal website, and later made available by me in a Kindle version. Last time I checked, it was still available as a website, but Kindle supposedly goes on forever, so try that if you are curious. I will mention that it was not particularly popular for understandable reasons.
My childhood was a bit different, as all childhoods are from the perspective of the child, and I planned and went through the motions of the actual act in the privacy of our two room apartment where my mother and I lived at the time near the Gulf Coast of Alabama. I would plan just where I would stab myself to make sure it was quick, effective, and as painless as possible. Guns were not common around me, and although I would have preferred that, one goes with what is available. I have no idea where I learned about this, but likely my planning had something to do with what was happening in my life.
I later used these learned dramatic skills first in high school, then college, and later on when I was active in community theatre, shortly after I retired slightly early from my career as a construction and development executive in Silicon Valley. I learned that acting the part that I wanted to play went a long way in convincing others that I knew what I was doing. That was about as far from the truth as one could possibly be, but it convinced others, which was the whole point.
That was one of the most important things I learned in my life. I still use that technique to remove myself from difficult or uncomfortable situations by pretending how I want to feel and act, and it works wonderfully, as I actually become what I intend to be, and neither I nor anyone else can tell the difference. It keeps interactions less messy and convoluted, and puts me in control.
Sometimes this is called "method acting" in the theatre (Google it for more detail) and most actors use it. I was using this technique as a child and later learned that it was well-known and useful technique on stage and in film, and would you believe it, politics, as one can readily and easily see.
And so one of my inner questions - not often expressed to others - is whether or not, when whatever disease or situation I am experiencing gets to be more than I wish to handle, would I have the desire or initiative to take my own life, in a private and peaceful calm way? It is an interesting intellectual inquiry for me, as it is the last frontier, barrier, or gateway to encounter and handle. It is simply a whimsical inquiry within myself at this point, fascinating, with no intention to go forth with that sort of plan ( the Reader should now put down the phone).
I have always had a curious and somewhat plastic mind, to say the least, and that aspect of me has often helped and sometimes hindered my ability to effectively live, while at the same time providing fodder for my ever-inquisitive mind.
And so, at this point, I intend to hang around as long as practicable, as my demons have been vanquished or obliterated or have left on their own for greener pastures, as some of my female friends occasionally did, and what I have left is a "clear space," which is another term for a vacant mind, but a place where extraordinary creativity can take place, with enough intention. (What I just wrote might be a world record in sentence length, but it does not matter any more, like so many other things that used to be important.)
I will likely write less and less, and think less and less, and experience more and more, which is a pretty good trade-off, at least in my mind as it now functions - and I do use that term loosely nowadays.
That's it for now, and that is quite good enough, which is again a new place for me, thankfully.
Things seem to be changing quickly in my life.
As I wrap up this update, not much has changed, it is cold, clear, and crisp outdoors, and time to take a walk with Giordi, my wonder dog. My relationship with Liz is the best it has ever been, in that we can sit down and just tell the truth to each other, without a lot of drama, and with love and affection as a backdrop for our sometimes difficult conversations.
I am a happy and satisfied man, because that is my choice, and not determined by the circumstances. You now know the Secret To Life, as proposed by El Loco.
Update of February 7, 2022
It is time I weighed in once more for an update, since things are happening and whatever this affliction is seems to be moving ahead.
Various consultations with doctors seem to result in nothing that changes the downward trajectory, and I have given up hope or reversing this decline. It is becoming more and more difficult to tolerate this feeling in my head, and while painful, it nevertheless is difficult to tolerate.
A the suggestion of our doctor, and as a last resort, we have started an experiment to see if we can find out which medication - if any, and I doubt there is - that might possibly be causing this feeling. It involves stopping individual medications for two weeks, one by one, to see if that cessation might result in a decrease in the feeling. I am now on week one or two, and have discontinued Memantine, an Alzheimers drug. After this, it will be Donepezil, the second Alzheimers drug I am taking, then we will see if things are any different.
Update: Today (February 23, 2022) we finished the experiment above, and I still have the "affliction" mentioned above, so likely this will be with me for the duration. So I accept that, and will move on to more fruitful pursuits as opposed to worrying. Come to think of it, that's a fairly good definition of how to live life, so that realization is the result of the affliction above, and it is nice to know the worry and suffering was worth it. I always did like a "payoff" of some sort to justify my experiments of the mind. My use of "drama" will likely never change, and I have also accepted that. As I keep saying - to myself - perhaps I am learning something.
And so it continues, thankfully. Updates may be coming soon, depending on circumstances, whims, and desire to again bare my soul.