Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fear and Loafing

Way back before the dawn of Pinterest and the social media onslaught of cutesy quotations, sometime around the early paleolithic era of 1997 or 98, I found a book on the shelf at home that was a dictionary of quotes.  It had thousands of quotations listed by speaker and by subject.  We lived on the river, which is about fifteen minutes from the booming metropolis of uptown Fairhope.  We called it that because Fairhope is far too genteel for a downtown, and because it helped us know the locals from the tourists.  Anyway, I came to peruse this volume because we lived too far away from my friends and no one, Mom, wanted to chaffeur me as often as I required.  Boredom is what I'm getting at. One of the quotes that stuck with me was, "It is better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees."  Or something.  It stayed with me, I think, because it's about fear and how fear gets in the way of life.  I'm pretty sure that I even used that quote in a paper I wrote for my G/T class in middle school.  That's Gifted/Talented, thank you very much, or more appropriately, Smart Mouth/Nerd class.  So, yeah, I liked to use quotes as a middle schooler.  Here's what we can learn from this: 1) You're never too young to be a pretentious ass, 2) teachers who have too strict of a word minimum get what they deserve, and 3) I've always been preoccupied with the theme of fear.  The first two are absolutes, but the last one I've had to put some thought into.  I've decided that I'm so interested in fear because it's such a part of me.

I'm fearful in many ways, but none quite so much as with health.  I can spiral into anxiety in an irregular hearbeat when I start reading about how this additive is linked to this calamity, and this dye causes goats to grow two goaty beards instead of one, and how the whole planet is being inundated with carcinogens, and how autism is caused by each and every thing a mother does.  I should just avoid this kind of information, but instead I eat it up, even though I know that a lot of it is skewed or incomplete data.

One thing I read, or heard, or maybe made up entirely is that one way to delay dementia and keep your mind active is to vary your routine.  An example being, that if you normally brush your teeth with your right hand, occasionally using the left will force your brain to do something neat, the specifics of which I'm not clear on. Natch.  I think the idea is that it creates new pathways.  This is where I think the mind is fascinating and why worrying about disaster is a joke.  So, I think about this recommendation every single night of my life when I take out my contacts.  I always take out my left contact first, and each time I think about how I should switch this up more. If not, my brain will rot and I will lose my mind and not be able to care for myself and I will die in squalor, not knowing my own name.  All this happens in about two seconds.  Instead of creating new pathways and keeping my mind active, I've conditioned myself to contemplate my own mortality every single night between brushing my teeth and washing my face. This is the danger of science in the hands of amatuers.  This is why it's better to not know sometimes.  When I am senile and in the aforementioned squalor, I believe I'll just wear my glasses.

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