I’m not one to do a great deal of self-assessment. Self-involvement, yes, but not really evaluating the mechanism or its spirit. I’m much more interested in evaluating the third draft of my current novel. I tend to outsource my deeper feelings. That’s included my recent hospital stay: I only know what I feel by writing about it, and I guess I have to trust the author. But a good excuse for doing a blog is the need, at times, to come up with a subject, and sometimes I choose what I know least about and would like to know more: myself. So this is a rapid run over the corpus and soul.
Physically I’m pretty good at 81. I had open-heart surgery about ten years ago, no desire to repeat it, but no reason to. All my lab readings look good, and I only take two cheap medications, one for cholesterol, one for hypertension. An upper partial denture, but otherwise my teeth do fine, as long as I remember to put them in. My vision is funky, but I’ve always coped with the squinty genes of one grandfather, and the other seems to have gifted me with being old.
Recently, I was hospitalized with the results of a fall. It taught me (a) that I’m mortal, (b) that I hate hospitals, and (c) that relearning what you’ve known all your life, such as walking, is pretty miraculous and not so easy as you thought.
My brain shows its age. Short-term memory goes in and out of focus, and I depend on the thesaurus much more than I should. But wild ideas still spring forth, and I pounce on them: three volumes of micro-fiction in the last three years. And despite a firm resolve not to write another novel, one’s finished and another is on its way.
I’m spiritually compromised. I feel I know myself all too well, and don’t always like what I know. At heart I’m a solipsistic, selfish creature, but I do my best not to be, and my best is pretty good. I’m highly judgmental, but only upon myself. I hold myself to a higher standard than the rest of the human race. I cope with isolation but don’t like it. Of course my mate makes up for a lot. Still, theatre was our life: it involved collaborators, long-term or brief, and audience response and sitting around with others after the show. We’ve been part of many groups, though mostly on the fringes, with many friends—now distant or dead or only on Facebook. The bins of puppets and shelves of plays staring at me feel accusatory somehow: had I been able to make them famous and market them, they might rest in peace.
There’s a play-reading group at a local arts center, and we were invited to hear some bits from RASH ACTS, our anthology of short sketches. It was a total joy to hear these in other voices, and especially to hear the laughter: the damned stuff still holds up! At the end, we were asked to read a very surreal piece, “At the Prom with Kali,” and the response was something we could dine on for many days.
In short, I think I feel proud of being part of the human race, despite its many flaws and criminal acts. And I feel pretty good about my small contributions. And I’d like to stick around as long as I can, just to see what happens.
Oh boy do I know what you’re talking about. I’m in my 80’s too. Mentally, I’m watching my sense of keenness slowly slide away. It’s the ol’ walking from one room to the next and wondering Why did I do that?
But it’s spring back here, and everything is bright green, and I love it. And there’s no rooms outside. It’s all open.
Good luck to you, my friend.
I love everything about this post. Wish I could be there at your play reading.
A renewed sense of mortality seems like a good reminder for a solipsistic, selfish creature, helps keep things in perspective. I’m cheered by the vigor of your writing and look forward to reading your work for years to come. Take good care and be well.