It’s come time for me to make lists. It is not necessarily an age thing, though I could easily use that as an excuse in that I find myself occasionally doing things like forgetting where I put the butter knife when I am holding the damned thing right there in my hand. But in that I’ve been doing things like that all of my life I cannot lay the entire blame on my bio-clock’s inevitable cellular decay. It’s more a motivational thing. It’s almost as if making the list in and of itself is an achievement. I’ll layout a column of things like “Schedule Dentist, Get Oil Changed, Dog to Vet, Call Lawyer, Call Agent, Call Lawyer (again, because I’ve forgotten that I’ d called him earlier, but he doesn’t care because it’s billable) Order Bass Strings, etc…” and then once the list is complete, I will feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and self-sastifaction, and decide to take a nap.
Making lists is also for me of late a way to cut through the noise. Not to go too far down the curmudgeonly “Get the fuck off my lawn” path, but part of the problem is the incessant amount of information of varying degrees of usefulness that competes for my attention. On any given day, thanks to the information superhighway/sewage-pipe’s exponential ability to put a bullhorn to my inner ear and scream “Hey nit-wit, pay attention to this hammock sale at Lowes,” or, “Wowza! Kim Kardashian’s butt has never looked so amazing!” or “Yo! Kittens! You want to look at some kittens? What the hell is wrong with you that you don’t like kittens? They’re adorable! You’re an insensitive jerk, you know that?”; I just don’t seem to have the filter to be able to determine in the required nano-second what is critical and what is useless in the tsunami of stuff that is blasted at me it seems from every direction.
It’s not simply limited to the web and it is not easily explainable by my obvious and chronic addiction to FaceBook. It is everywhere. Recently I cut off cable TV to my house. I have only a high-speed ISP, a Roku and a cell phone. That’s it for connectivity to the outside world. But like a microscopic flaw in a window jam that will allow an arctic blast into your home and drive you into a rage of carpet-chewing madness trying to trace it, even that limited amount of access from the tsunami of media does nothing to stop the noise. And unfortunately I’m as easily distracted as a cat by a laser pointer.
Be it the radio in my car, where when I finally find a station that isn’t melting the tectonal membranes of my ears with some overly-compressed, bro-country /pop-tart sludge, it interrupts it’s dulcet offerings with a screaming advert for an auto sale which if I don’t act upon immediately will result in the murder of a million puppies… or be it in print, where for example while sorting the mail I will determine that the envelope marked “Urgent” from the laboratory where the biopsy of that weird mole I had removed was sent is far less important than the flier for a tire sale or spider vein treatments (even though I have no immediate need for either)… I for the life of me am finding it harder and harder to tell the important shit from the inane.
My step-father has recently been diagnosed with beta-amyloid formations in the brain. This is not Alzheimers thank goodness, but it is a form of mental short-circuitry that results in notable and progressive cognitive difficulty. He will forget words, will confuse timelines, forget people’s names (no huge thing there, I’m a champion in that), what day it is, etc., and he has basically lost the ability to add a tip and calculate a restaurant tab. He is 84. And… he couldn’t care less. He actually finds it all a bit funny. In the midst of a story he will completely forget what he was talking about, launch into a non-sequiter, then stop mid-sentence, look around the table at everyone and say “…wow!” and proceed to belly-laugh at himself. It’s both heartbreaking and endearing for me, as everyone else, but ultimately I cannot help but applaud him. As to the noise that drives me to distraction, he could care less. It’s as though he’s wearing a raincoat in a hurricane, and he laughs at me when I go off on a tirade about it all. I don’t know whether to envy him, pity him or punch him in the mouth…. for getting sick and directing my attention to the fact that I will eventually lose him. I don’t need to put that on a list. I am aware of that. Ultimately I thank him for helping me determine what is important… and what is not.