Sometimes, out of the clear blue, one or the other of my knees will scream out in pain. It’s only for a moment. Then that knee goes back to doing what knees do. Knee-ing, I guess. Almost every morning, when I bow nine times to the cushion on which I have sat in meditation, my lower back, way down there near the tailbone, sizzles with a low and slow burn of ache. Each of those nine times. Generally, daily, some number of hours of living, of moving around, pass before the pain subsides. But these body breakdowns are a story for another day. This is a tale about my mind.
It’s later Thursday night, and I might want to write about my slowly emptying mind, the thoughts I was puzzling over on today’s afternoon walk. The blank screen when I go to grab information and facts long known by me, and right then, at the grab, nothing. Happening more over time, seems to have increased exponentially this last year, feels like it. An example is waking up a few mornings ago with the 5:10 bird-song alarm on my phone and for some reason the movie “Be Cool” floated into my head. I knew it was based on the mystery book, I believe it was written by…..and then nothing. And I know this. I know this author really well. But when I go to say it – nothing. And it hasn’t come to me since, like three or four days.
The point – the inability to grab what I know from my life’s experience, where instead all I find in that encyclopedia of warehoused consciousness is a big blank nothing. And so I began that morning a few days ago, still in bed, thinking about mystery writers in general and then my favorite mystery writer who I have loved for so many years and read about 25 of his books, all in the Dave Robicheaux series, and it happened again. I gave total attention for about five minutes and couldn’t come up with his name. A white screen. Then I thought about his daughter, herself a published author, some of whose books I have read, and her name is Alafair Burke and then – bingo – James Lee Burke. My favorite author. Which, thinking about it means I took a circuitous route to come up with something I have long known, something really important to and for me. My favorite author. All of which means I’m talking here about the lowering functionality of my mind, which I have discussed with some other folks of my age, who have assured me it sounds familiar – one or two of them anyway – and it’s part of the still here, still-above-ground deal. What they might refer to in an Al-Anon meeting as taking “the bitter with the better”.
So the big, big question for me is this — Is there something in the way of adaptability? How do I make the absolute best use of what it is I think with and remember with (or not) and creatively dance with these days? – these days being yesterday and last week and all the days going forward in which there is no white chalk outline around my body when I wake up – thank you very much. This public outing of my memory diminishment defines at least one portion of my ongoing living, and here in the Blog, especially as a writer. Maybe not so much as a visual artist, where paint moves intuitively on canvas as channeled by brush and/or palette knife. But as a writer – a teller of stories. I suppose I could just sit at the keyboard and nudge my fingers, break the inertia of not typing and begin typing whatever it is that shows up, like the palette knife swirling of its own accord. Hmm – I guess in fact I do this already on occasion, those stream-of-conscious style timed writings which I sometimes like after the fact and even occasionally publish on this Blog.
Perhaps this is the real couch surfing for me in 2019, now well beyond the halfway mark between my 70th and 71st years on the planet. Couch Surfing at 70 is simply being somewhere sometime and somehow, and when I am moved to create – which is often – then I take what I guess you could call the ‘white noise’ of my mind, in which it seems someone has not only erased the chalk board but washed it as well, and say to the big old world – Okay world, this is me, Buddy Cushman, 70 year-old cadet reporting for duty, and I’m willing to give everything I’ve got today, with the up-front caveat that it may emerge from a hit-or-miss, whimsically-scattered palette of personal experience. But this is all I’ve got now, this is who I am now, and my job and obligation to and for the planet and the race and for that matter the races is to suit up and show up and give what’s there to give on any given day.
Which, thinking about it, that is a lot of giving. However the diminished mind fillets it out. Even if I can’t remember the movie I went to see with my wife two weeks ago.