Saturday, June 23, 2012

Glass Half Full

Perception is a remarkable thing. 

Jack working in his boat.

I am watching an episode of Ancient Aliens.  There is an individual on this show (not Giorgio), an engineer, that I have seen on this series numerous times on previous episodes that I just realized something about.  When I look at this particular person, my mind adjusts who it is that I am seeing so that who I am perceiving I see is Jack Robinson.  Jack was an old man that lived on the sailboat that sat in the slip next to ours at Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove.  His hair was grey and usually uncombed or nestled under a Panama hat and he had big bushy, greying red eyebrows over his shiny, squinted eyes.  Jack had really kind eyes, a quick wit and I was very fond of him.  He designed and built the sailboat himself, a fibreglass, sleek beauty that would eventually end up being the death of him. You see, after spending years inhaling that toxic fibreglass dust, he developed lung cancer and he died one morning on that very vessel, his pride and joy.  I can't remember the name of his boat.  I suppose it's good enough that I remember the name of the one I lived on, my big, cumbersome Morgan Out-Island sailing yacht, Elephant Child.  Yes, that I remember well.

Tonight, perhaps because I'm angry and uncomfortable, I looked up at the television screen to see this man describing the near perfect symmetry of the statue of Ramses II, and instead of seeing Jack Robinson, I saw the actual man himself, Christopher Dunn and was struck by the differences.  This worries me.   Until tonight, I had never thought about the way that I was filling in the parts of him that weren't Jack for him to become Jack.  In other words, it wasn't until I saw the truth that I saw the lie.  Did your head just explode?  This is the type of stuff that makes me question my reality, and then my sanity, and then the capacity of my brain to remember things accurately, if at all.

I'm not as crispy clear as I used to be.  Sometimes I'm barely spongy opaque.  My boss has just entered the third decade of his life and his brain is so lightening fast that it actually astounds me sometimes.  One of the best consequences of that quick firing synapse is how immediately funny a person can be.  But me?  I can still be kind of funny but I'm definitely not connecting quite as well as I used to.  The thought of slipping into Alzheimer's (I know that's a ridiculous way to describe the onset, like your putting on a pair of flip-flops) is absolutely terrifying to me.  Most of the time my mental lapses, that is for me the seeming complete deletion of the dictionary in my head, happens when I am speaking.  That's why I prefer the written word so much more over the spoken one.  There are times when I am having a conversation with someone that I'm pretty sure I sound like, well, Fred Armisen on Saturday Night Live plays Nicholas Fhen, a thirty-something year old pseudo political intellectual that spends 2 minutes talking but saying nothing at all - I feel like I sound like that.  The breaks happen when I write too, though not as often and the beauty here is that the more fired up I get while I'm writing, the better and more fluid the connection becomes.  That makes sense even though I'm not a neurologist.
© Saturday Night Live
What else am I seeing that isn't real?  How can reality be subjective, it's reality?  This is an interesting - I was going to say phenomenon but I'm not sure anything that has to do with the brain can be considered a phenomenon, it's a perfect machine, we just don't understand it, so - strangeness.  What other word is there?  For example, it's strange that when I look at my father, both physically while he was alive and now in memory, that I see someone really different than whom my sister sees.  Yeah, I know that different circumstances caused our perceptions of this one man to evolve differently.  My sister, after all, is eleven years older than me so she saw and experienced eleven extra years of stuff that I wasn't around for.  Even so, sometimes it seems like she knew a completely different rendition of our father.  I guess I answered my question in there somewhere, huh?  Our perception is wholly affected by our personal experiences and by how we are wired to deal with those experiences.  And this perhaps too can explain why I am so disappointed in a certain relationship in my life right now.  Because I see things differently for those aforementioned reasons and because I have walked a different path, we will never see things the same way.  

Well, there's a little food for thought, ey? 

I'm probably not slipping into Alzheimer's; I'm just slipping into fifty.  Right now I've gotten the sparks flying in my brain and it's warmed up enough that I think I can get some uninterrupted writing in with out the mental, Um, But, It's just, You know? Even if, I'll be the first...

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