Yesterday I woke up from some absurdist dream, which in itself is nothing unusual, at around two-thirty. I hiked the 39 steps, or whatever, to the john and back, climbed back under the sheets, and did not go back to sleep: about quarter past three I cursed my hyperactive imagination (where the hell is it when I'm trying to write something?) and wished there was some sort of toggle switch I could use to shut down brain function entirely — and promptly regretted it, realizing that I wouldn't necessarily be able to reenable the functionality once it's been disabled.

Which reflects a very real fear of mine: that something's going to happen inside my head, suddenly or gradually, and everything I associate with adulthood is going to dissolve into the fog and leave me basically a very large infant. The prospect of an ordinary long and lingering illness doesn't particularly trouble me — I have the example of my brother, who was lucid, if not always able to convey that lucidity, right up until his last few hours — but the idea of going through the rest of my days with a blank expression because I have no clue what's going on is decidedly disturbing.

I must point out here that I have no particular reason to expect this to happen; there's no genetic tendency to dementia, so far as I know, and most of the diseases for which I have elevated risk factors, I suspect, are likely to take me out long before the brain fails. Besides, medical technology has been advancing rapidly, and assuming I don't get on the wrong side of somebody's death panel, I should be able to benefit from some of it, right?

It occurs to me that this specific fear may be lurking behind the fact that I've been working on this damned Web site for almost a decade and a half; so long as I have to bend the brain a bit to produce something resembling content, perhaps I can delay the arrival of the Reaper's Special Assistant for Dementia. Besides, as any developer worth his thumb drive full of modules can tell you, no site is ever truly completed.

As to why I'd even contemplate such a subject in the first place, it's simply that I always think about such things when I roll over another year on the counter. (For some examples, see Vent #654, from one year ago.) And of course, I've never been this old — fifty-seven — before.

Moreover, the world not having become entirely Orwellian just yet, I have reason to believe that my worst fears may actually be unfounded. I'm not quite as confident as, say, Edward Bloom (Albert Finney) of Big Fish, who, having seen a vision of his future demise, knows how he's going to go and therefore doesn't fear anything else. Then again, Bloom was in the habit of telling tall tales, which I'm not. I think. I'd hate to think that all the memories I've poured into this site are just figments of a hyperactive imagination.

The Vent

  25 November 2010

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