Monday, January 14, 2008

A New Year Gained, A Marble Lost ...

Yup. It's the fourteenth day of this new year and yet this is my FIRST POST. Ah well. So be it! We're slowing down in the blogging department, THAT'S for sure. But it's not been a bad year so far. Two weeks in. Hmm. We cross our fingers. We hope.

As for marbles lost, well ... a very weird thing began to happen, maybe two months ago. Quite suddenly I found, I simply could NOT complete the daily Sudoku in the newspaper. I get the Asian Age and it publishes two Sudoku puzzles every day, including Sundays. Quite generous of them! But whereas I used to be able to do both every day, I began to find that (a) I was starting to make fatal errors, resulting in unfinished puzzles and then (b) I stopped being able to do the harder of the two puzzles at all. I mean ... totally.

What does it mean? I feel very sure that it's not just chance or some change in the puzzle-format. I used to be able to do them and now, when I glance at the puzzle, I get nothing -- oh maybe one or two numbers to fill in, but that's all. And I used to be able to do the whole puzzle. I've never liked struggling with puzzles so either I did them fairly easily or I didn't bother. But this, now, is just complete blankness. I can even recall what it felt like -- a type of light melody, a note here, a note there and gradually the whole tune would fill up and the thing would make sense and all the bits would fall into place. For the harder puzzles, yes, I used to pencil in a few "candidates" then cross them off as other numbers found their niches.

So is this the beginning of the end? Should I make the effort of going to a neurologist to confirm that old Mr Al Z. Heimers has become a permanent lodger in my poor brain? I don't know whether I want to find out! Yes, I can still do the easy ones -- but I find them irritating, like nursery rhymes rather than a full-bodied tune. I hate acknowledging that this is ALL I can manage now, when just a couple of months ago, I was pretty confident I could get to the end of any puzzle I began. Still, I keep doing the easy ones, just so that I don't forget altogether. Every day I wonder when I am going to find that these are also beyond me!

It's an odd feeling. Like seeing myself fall off a cliff, in slow motion. Why is it a surprise? I'm 54 now and will turn 55 in June this year. So it's not as if the grey in my hair is just an illusion. There have been other marbles lost over the years, things I used to be able to do which I can't any more. When I was a pre-teen, I could write reams of doggerel, for instance -- but by the time I was twenty-five, I realized quite suddenly that I could no longer do it. It was like reaching into a cupboard for a jar of cookies that was normally always full, only to find that the jar had mysteriously disintegrated, vanished, ceased to be. I used to have a gigantic vocabulary but now, if I can find words of three syllables that reasonably express what I want to say, I feel grateful.

Weird, huh?

There's not much point feeling especially sad about it. There are millions of things I can't do -- have never been able to do -- and now there are a few more. Big deal. I'm concentrating on feeling grateful for the things I can still do. It's not much, and it's not a long list (it's never been!) but at least I still laugh a lot and I don't sweat the small stuff. I'm still drawing and writing. Still blogging and e-mailing. Talking to my Mum on the telephone every evening and hey -- I still like icecream!!

What a great gift to humankind icecream is! Yum. In answer to that question that used to be asked -- If you knew your world was going to end in 15 minutes (oh -- five, three, ten -- what matter? You get the point -- nuclear strike about to happen, the warning comes only moments before the end) what would you do in the brief time left to you? -- I've always answered, ICE CREAM!!!

*grin* And you? If you had 3/5/10/15 minutes left ... what would you do before the lights went out forever?


Anonymous said...

My dad calls it "changing gears"; he claims that for every skill you lose, you gain something, often not something that's discussed. I asked him for an example and he said at 60 he lost some of his verbal ability--couldn't do the Times crossword any more--but discovered that his long-term memory had suddenly sharpened. He had absolute clarity about the past, while the present was sometimes a little fuzzy.

The other example he often cites isn't a skill so much as an attitude; at 70, he discovered a new capacity for patience (this is nothing short of miraculous for anyone who knows him) and, sometimes to his discomfort, empathy.

My grandmother--she's in her eighties--discovered that she'd lost "math memory" when she turned 80, but that it had been replaced with a far sharper visual memory. But she didn't see the connection until she thought about it. You might find interesting stuff coming up if you really look.

3 minutes is too short to do what I'd do if I only had that much time left, heh heh. But seriously... if I had 15 minutes left? It's odd, but I would want to eat something interesting and sharply flavoured--baby octopi? foie gras? a sun-ripened tomato fresh off the vine? a perfect mango?--and read poetry. You're thinking, poetry, what a moron... but how could you go out into the darkness without Symborska or Peyaneerar or Yeats? I would want to go out drunk on poetry.

Marginalien said...

Thank you -- what a pleasing notion(I mean, about going out on a wave of poetry)! I may have to amend my choice to icecream AND poetry. Tho I suspect if any such thing were really to happen, I wouldn't believe it until it was too late. And there'd be no icecream in the house at that precise moment. And I'd be cursing too much to remember about the poetry ...

I wish you'd left some clue as to your identity, Anonymous! I think I might like to know you! Unless I already do, of course, in which case ... ummmm ... I'd STILL like to know that I knew you!!

Anonymous said...

how about considering it as unloading, like at first you remember all your phone nosby heart and as you move at first you keepset 1 and add set2 but then you move again and add set3 and after a certain point it's not possible to keep it all and you decide that just knowing your own mobile no and your closest other's will suffice; I think shedding to hone on other skills is good as time runs its course!

Anonymous said...

ICE CREW. i know it sounds quite rude (& i suspect this might get censored) but you started it. but ya - last 15 min - er, even 3 - thats the way i'd like to go. once read a poem from a li'l gal to big wig upstairs and she in4med him - that he seemed to have got life backwards - so it began with the decaying body in a grave (- of what we become i s'pose as we transition on into further bio degradation), backwards to death, old age, retirement, etc etc teenager, toddler chronologically reversing time's arrow - into the womb, fetus, ovum, - and heres the kicker - ending in the orgasm ....... and i then changed my "last, if possible" act of dying from a heroin assisted leap to - heh imagine going out on the big O? not exactly conducive to the celib8 proposed direction as we aproach geriatric bliss but whatthehell that'd be my last go/come (noting of course that the universe did after all begin with a bang anyway). gt