Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hanging On

I heard the other day on NPR a show about how the Internet is changing the way people read and think. Interesting stuff. There's a sort of shotgun nature to the approach to exploring, learning, digesting, and then thinking on the other end of it all. People are becoming less likely to devote focus to an entire book, for instance, in favor of consuming bits and pieces from myriad sources and viewpoints. It is all, it would seem, more relative than ever before. Knowledge becomes a creature of short clips, isolated exclamations, and the mind becomes accustomed a a sort of rapid fire pattern of function and comprehension. We begin, perhaps, to live on ordeurves (how the hell do you spell that?) rather than meals.

Because of MS, my brain seems to work right along these same lines, so I suppose this revolution is a good thing for me. Still, I do not remember very much of what I read, or even of what I write myself, so the whole pursuit of knowledge thing, regardless of venue, appears to be a fairly pointless exercise anyway.

New information is a particular problem. I can remember very well things from five and ten and twenty years ago, but would be hard pressed to tell you what I did yesterday, or what I wrote in the first sentence of this post.

It is for this reason that I am hanging on to my job by my fingernails. Whatever lies outside the realm of the purely automatic becomes more and more challenging, more and more worrisome. I try to find artificial ways of storing this sort of information--yellow post-its, a notebook, a phone message to myself--but they just don't cut it the way the functioning brain cuts it. I find myself prevaricating, feigning ignorance, displacing blame.

Ten years to go. Can I make it? It seems rather doubtful sometimes.

This morning a beggar came up to my car window while I was stopped at a traffic light. He wondered if I could spare a cigarette (which of course I could). He said that he had left his cigarettes back at camp, with a couple other bums. Never leave your cigarettes with bums, he said.

Words of wisdom, those. But my God, it is freezing outside. There is ice on the grass and on the sidewalk. Here is a hardy man indeed, and I can't help admiring him for it. Nonetheless, I really do not care to join him. Nothing personal. I'd just rather be safe and warm.


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