As too often happens, I sat down to write this blog and...nothing. If I had a thought as I approached the desk, it was gone by the time the seat of my pants hit the seat of the chair. There are few things more difficult than trying to think of something when you have no idea of what to think of. It's not that I don't have any thoughts...I have millions of them, and they're all churning around in there like grains of sand in a dust storm. Catching and holding on to just one of them is the problem.
But as frustration over my inability to come up with an idea grew, I became aware that often my most random thoughts tend to be progressive, one leading to the next, like a game of mental hopscotch. So I decided to just follow the chain and see where I'd end up.
“Okay,” I told myself, “just pick a thought and we'll see where we go from there.”
“How about doing a blog on the people who live in my building?”
“Good as any. Go with it.”
There is a lady who lives on the same floor as I. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned her before. When she is not out mopping the halls (despite the fact that the building's maintenance crew does the job quite well), she is whistling. And unlike the seven dwarfs in Walt Disney's Snow White, she seldom whistles while she works. But any other time I see her, she is whistling. No recognizable tune, no recognizable melody, no recognizable pattern, just whistling notes at random. I am all in favor of those who march to their own drummer, but at least they have some sort of cadence. With the whistling lady, I strain to find even three connected notes of something which might be considered a tune, but have yet to find them.
And? Time for a hop.
I recognize a large number of people with whom I share the building (see the link?), and exchange greetings and brief observations on the day's weather, but nothing more. I am sure most of them are very pleasant. But I have no desire to go beyond the idle-pleasantries stage. Perhaps it stems in part to my being gay and used to keeping my distance from people with whom I feel I have little or nothing in common. Some may consider this being aloof. I prefer to think of it as just being apart, and I like it that way.
And because I live in a city-subsidized “Senior Citizens”—the politically correct term for what people who are not themselves senior citizens refer to as “Old Farts”—apartment building and am surrounded by old people, it's an easy hop from contemplating the residents' being old to my however-reluctant and painful lip-service acknowledgement of my being old. (I adamantly refuse to accept the reality of that concept; I prefer to think of myself as simply being trapped in a body subject to the ravages of time.)
This, naturally—well, naturally for me, at any rate—led to the next mental hop, the fact that I consider myself a case study in aging in the strangely detached manner of a medical examiner performing an autopsy. Perhaps partly because I'm a writer I've developed the ability to somehow stand outside myself and observe my thoughts and actions objectively.
And as frequently happens on these hop-skip-jump excursions, I can sense that the chain of these chain-of-consciousness thoughts are starting to lead me in directions I really do not want to go, and certainly don't want to drag you along with me. So rather than risk getting caught up in the bog of “oh, you poor kid!” and dwelling on how much I have lost and how I have no control over anything, etc., I will now grab myself by the scruff of the neck and give myself a stern lecture on just how damned lucky I really am and everything positive in my life.
Which, right now, includes a reflection on William Ernest Hensley's classic poem, “Invictus:” I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. Live with it!
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).