While working, I usually listen to music. During the summer, how I get sick of the battles between meand my 13 year old over who controls Spotify. Her taste is music isn’t terrible, especially considering her age, but there is only so much foxygen I can stand. Eventually I give up and watch or more precisely listen to movies on Netflix . Since I can only listen and not always see the images, I prefer documentaries for the lack of plot and characters. “How To Die In Oregon” was one such selection. I wasn’t so much interested in the subject of assisted suicide but it seemed depressing enough to keep me working and thinking huh liver cancer, well my life could be worse.
Except for currently being alive, I suffer from nothing terminal. I learned the lesson that life it fatal when my friend and I were candy stripers when we were 13. As a doctor was walking out of the hospital to take a smoke, one of us must have given us given him a disapproving glance (since 13 year old knows everything and anyone over 21 is a fucking moron). He turned to us and said “all life is fatal; we’re all going to die eventually.” I am sure someone must have just coded. My friend paled and looked shocked and though he was an asshole. I said he did have a point.
On my wrist I have a lump. I am pretty sure it is a harmless ganglion cyst. It doesn’t really hurt unless I smack my hand on something or try to bend my fingers to my arm, neither of which of I should do on a regular basis. I also have a lump on my right breast. It has been there at least a year. It has grown slightly and has recently become painful. Most people would make an appointment with a doctor if they had this type of lump. However, I have no interest in discovering my membership status in the pink ribbon sorority. It isn’t fear of hearing some terrible diagnosis, or undergoing possibly invasive testing or shelling out copay after copay that prevents me from making the appointment. It is I don’t want to step on the scale and hear how I’ve gained 10 lbs in a year. Really that is it and the fact that I am pretty confident that whatever it is, it is as inconsequential as the bump on my wrist. Pretty people; people with talent and skills; people who are loved ; people who contribute and improve the world; those are the one who get snuffed out at 40. Whiny, melodramatic moms who dream of escape are generally spared.
“How To Die In Oregon” did lead me to think about control. Obviously there is control in deciding when and how you die. But in my situation at what point do you just say fuck it and let go? I am not acutely suicidal but chronically so and without plan. This means I go through life hoping to drop dead randomly without any real effort on my part. I want neither control nor responsibility. It is less guilty that way and incredibly more spineless –the lazy way to die. In this the paradox lies. I must be in control over every aspect of how I live.
Every action and reaction is rehersed. My job is so mind numbingly dull that I listen to people suffer, and cry and pour out their deepest, darkest secrets while looking through page after page of trademarks with nary a tear in sight. My daughter crying and slamming doors because she is having yet another text argument with her girlfriend and my only response is “you won’t feel this way forever.” My other daughter is pouting and stomping because her sister isn’t in the mood to entertain her and my response is “entertain yourself.” It isn’t that I don’t love them or care about them but if I allowed any more of a response, any more emotional investment, the façade that I’ve built will crumble .