I spent most of yesterday with Eileen. Her colonoscopy came out normal. She seemed relieved. I was reminded how deeply I love her as I watched her go through with this test. I do wonder about the invasivness of this procedure. So much of medical evaluations are based on actuarial-like statistics and it’s weird and oddly disconnected from living. It often feels to me like 21st century superstition to try to take care of your body.
I am of course very glad that Eileen’s colonscopy came out normal and that she was not harmed by the procedure itself (small chance of a puncture can occur they informed us). And of course I jump on the treadmill whenever I can and try to eat right and watch my weight (not always successfully). But my skepticism is still present even as I too go through the motions of “taking care” of myself. There is the idea that one gets a body and a life and that life is to be lived and the body to be used. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with using life up. As Modest Mouse puts it in their song “Ocean Breathes Salty” on their CD “Good news for people who love bad news,” “you wasted life, why wouldn’t you waste death?”
I take this to mean that people don’t embrace living fully and do not understand death as a logical and beautiful part of life. (Sarah, I’m not thinking of you. Heh.) One way I see this happening around me is the blindness of people to contexts that could inform them. Maybe this is what it is to be older. You know shit. You watch other people who don’t seem to know the same shit and consequently sometimes waste and screw up life.
This doesn’t mean that I haven’t done my share of this kind of wasting and screwing up. It means I feel lucky to know some shit and to be alive and living with a woman I love.
I guess it’s a kind of bittersweet joy of living.
I’m thinking of the joy of touching someone you love, the joy of walking on a snow covered street and looking at the snow and the trees. I’m thinking of seeing past the lies of organized religion and bureaucracies to the living breathing people involved. And of course for me there are the joys of making music and reading.
I have been finding the poetry of Dylan Thomas a great consolation for the stupidity of life in America right now. I follow the news. I voted. But I remember what a high school English teacher taught me: that there is more important stuff in a poem, more life, more reality, than any “news story.”
When I say stupidity of America, this is what I am thinking of. I have to sadly agree with the expert Linda Greenhouse: the Supreme Court of our country “is beginning to look evermore like just a collection of politicians in robes.”
Likewise, Paul Krugman writes in this article: “The real lesson of the Ebola story is that sometimes public policy is succeeding even while partisans are screaming about failure…. American political discourse is dominated by cheap cynicism about public policy, a free-floating contempt for any and all efforts to improve our lives.”
A clear statistical look.