Monday, October 15, 2012

old age, doctors and laughter

Woke this morning thinking of doctors (peace and a reduced sense of greed be upon them) and humor.

At a certain age, no one who can help it goes to a doctor. At a certain age, doctors no longer provide good news. They simply provide information about what is marginally better or significantly worse and the margin of better is hardly worth the effort required to go to an office and endure a scrubbed atmosphere filled with scrubbed people intent on making things better from their chirpy and assured point of view.

"Well, it's not cancer," may qualify as good news for some, but at a certain age it is simply marginally better. Good news would be not going to the doctor at all because going to the doctor is just another reminder of what those at a certain age already know and are not entirely enthusiastic about ... this is a downhill slope. The slipping away of mind and body may be a fact, but going to a doctor to be reminded of it hardly seems healthy.

In a doctor's office, death is anathema and something to ward off or fix. Another pill, another regimen, another vision of the future that those of a certain age are somehow expected to share when all the evidence suggests that sharing that vision is child's play in an adult setting. As energies and abilities fall away like autumn leaves, it is a good day when those of a certain age can still drive without running over small bicyclists or plowing through a plate-glass window at the hardware store. It is a good day when half of the categories on the quiz show "Jeopardy" are topics the viewer remembers with ease ... who the hell knows anything about rap singers or Hollywood marriages or phone aps? It is a good day when there is no doctor's appointment to endure because "things can be improved ... chirp, chirp."

Sharing may be caring, but for those of a certain age shared suppositions no longer provide a collegial place of prosperity and plenty. It's not that there is anything deliberate about it, it's just that the suppositions (better is better, I'm going to live forever, death is to be held at bay, etc.) just lose their luster and trying to pretend they are still lustrous falls into the category of going to a doctor who seems to impose a "worse" while insisting on a "better" ... there's only so much bullshit anyone is willing to abide... shared bullshit takes effort and at a certain age, there is less energy. When up-beat just provides a downer, why go to a doctor who is in the up-beat biz?

At a certain age, some square off with this situation by becoming cranky with those around them. A curmudgeon in the making. Fuck 'em all. But that too takes more energy than those of a certain age may possess. So a slow, steady withdrawal, a retreat into silent frailty, may take center stage. "If you can't say anything nice, keep your mouth shut." But "nice" is part of the issue ... the shared assumptions that refuse, somehow, to be shared with much gusto. Making nice is about like going to the doctor ... another fix that doesn't really fix much.

How then does anyone address the lively spirit within, the one that is young and bushy-tailed and full-blooded alive even as the body and mind segue into an inability or unwillingness to swallow convenient social bits of bullshit?

I suggest laughter. For those of a certain age, wouldn't it be wonderful if, instead of a doctor's appointment at 9:30 marked on the calendar, there were an appointment with laughter. Cancer or no cancer ... just an appointment with laughter. Ebbing abilities or no ebbing abilities, I know I for one would get off my dead ass and go with pleasure if there were an appointment with some down-home laughter. The edgelessness, the full-throated aliveness that corresponds perfectly with that which remains bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the realm in which the bullshit can take a hike ... an appointment with laughter. Spiritual or intellectual nostrums lose their bullshit footing in laughter and all the chirpy promises dissolve like woodsmoke ... no more improvements, no more pills, no more fear.

And a bit of humor that touches my funny bone and offered me a healing appointment this morning was this:

Not everyone's cup of tea perhaps, but I think those of a certain age might want to make an appointment with their own laughter. It's a great break from the bullshit factory.

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