Thursday, May 19, 2016

A big brain is a terrible thing to waste

Yeah. So I had coffee with Not-His-Real-Name Walter earlier this week. Please note that this is not something I do just so I may enjoy a delicious beverage..

See, Not His Real Name has a big brain, as do I. When put together, conversation generated can be upsetting to the casual observer. One of the saving graces. Though. is the fact that Walter's brain is more developed and has a greater capacity towards improving the common good. He reads actual magazines, news magazines, as opposed to those exploring and exploiting pop culture. Me, I don't read magazines unless I'm stuck somewhere waiting for a doctor, lawyer, car mechanic or some other who tries to distract you from the amount of extra time you are having to spend waiting for them.

Walter also makes daily visits to web sites specializing in presenting the latest news, usually accompanied by analysis designed to spark discussion. My favorites list is scattered with sites like where levels of sweet and cute can become dangerous to the health of any diabetics who may stumble onto them, and where serious discussion, if there even is any, will invariably swirl around the merits of dogs v. cats and which make better companions.

The fallout from these differences means that if Not His Real Name and I are going to have a serious discussion about a serious topic, he's going to have to take the lead.

Take the other day, for example. He brought up the topic of man's inability to accept that, at some point, he is going to die; that our instinct for self-preservation is driven beyond all logic. By and large, he said, we will fight like the dickens to avoid talking about death, thinking about death, or dealing with death in any way, shape or fashion, even though, on some level, everyone knows they can't avoid it.

“Watching people deal with it,” he was saying the other morning, “is a lot like watching someone living in a house that's on fire and hearing them say, 'Yeah. I know the house's is on fire, but don't you think a new sofa would look great over there? What about some new drapes?”

It becomes a case where something important, nay essential, that is, our desire for self-preservation, actually becomes a bad thing if you think about it. Time we could spend making a logical transition from robust youth to a necessary older age is wasted on nostrums and schemes designed to keep us feeling young, or at the very least, convincing those around us that we're younger than them.

Now, this is where Not-His-Real-Name-Walter's big brain really rises to the fore. Just as the self-preservation battle is reaching a peak such as only a serious physical break can slow, we're given this sort-of aging blanket that covers us and forces us to look at and accept certain things at certain times of our lives.

Under cover of the blanket, we see we can't run as fast as we once did, let's say. We still carry on the fight for self-preservation, but with one less tool. Then maybe we realize we need to take more naps. Arthritis tosses its two-cents worth in to make it more difficult to open that jelly jar lid. And so on.

The fight continues, but as all these little bits and pieces add up, we begin to see that maybe, just maybe, letting go a little wouldn't be so bad; acknowledging that there will come a time when death isn't necessarily the horror we've believed it to be all these years.

Now, this blanket has great value when you're able to start using it at the correct point in your life. For it to produce the desired affect, it should be mid-70s or later, when the parts that aren't working as well as they once did begin to outnumber the parts that do. Makes sense, right? Who wants to jump out of bed first thing in the morning yelling, “Hey. It's raining! I get to battle the arthritis in my knees today!”

So, the fight for self-preservation and the aging blanket become two essential tools in finding comfort as you grow older and move towards the inevitable “you know what.”

But, as Walter is apt to do, he points out that people like myself... those with a major disease that aims to cut my life short, don't really get full advantage of the aging blanket. My aches and pains haven't reached anywhere near critical mass; not even close to the point where there can be comfort waiting along the road that leads to the end.

Unfortunately, that's as far as our discussion got: seeing the issue, but not the solution. Still, as long as he continues to visit cool web sites, progress can be made. At the same time, I can spend my time watching cute cat videos to keep my mind off things. Then we can get our big brains back together and see how far we can go the next time. Stay tuned.

There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere