Indian Summer

Almost everything I touch lately ends up on the floor: my food, my meds, my keys, my Foolish Times…yes, even myself on occasion. I’m constantly losing things, fixing things, stumbling over things, finding new places to put things. My post-retirement renaissance has become a travesty of fumbles and petty mishaps; the glorious expanse of creative opportunity I’d envisioned, riddled with glitches, roadblocks and wrong turns…trips to the store, trips to the bathroom. Sound familiar? Then maybe you need to read this.

Before ARID, the pettiest setback felt like an affront to my dignity, to my sense of purpose. I thought: this can’t be happening to me, not now! Not in the Indian summer of my life! I was done with boot camp. If I had time to learn from my mistakes, I’d be the smartest man in the world by now. Here I was diddling around, scraping cat shit off my shoe, while my unedited manuscript sat simmering on the back burner, begging for my attention. I’d tell myself, the longer it takes me to finish it, the greater the chance that I’ll die before this golden egg ever hatches. Believe me, this kind of anxiety can send any self-respecting wordsmith to the nut farm. This is where ARID saved me.

AGE RELATED INDIFFERENCE DISORDER (ARID) isn’t a disease. Think of it as a natural coping mechanism, a latter day attitude realignment. ARID is a gradual deadening of the senses which, unlike dementia, leaves a person fully cognizant, while rendering him impervious to the stress and disenchantment that come from taking the world, or himself, too seriously. ARID makes life’s urges seem less urgent, the letdowns less devastating. I find I can sleep better knowing that whatever unfinished business I leave behind while I’m alive probably won’t matter to me when I’m dead. Besides, nobody knows or cares what I’m working on anyway. Even what little I do accomplish on earth won’t be worth a hill of snot if the world ends.

I’ve learned that anyone who practices the rare art of living in the moment finds himself painfully out of synch with a culture that nurtures inattentiveness and mediocrity. Every day, we’re bombarded with distractions, sensory overload and situations that pull us in a thousand contrary directions. Yet, for all the piddling demands that life imposes upon a person, nothing seems to disturb him when he’s doing nothing. Ever notice that? Mundane tasks don’t count. Fishing a cell phone out of the toilet doesn’t count. One must be earnestly engaged in something meaningful or potentially fulfilling in order for the CBF (cosmic booby factor) to kick in. The only hearts that break are those brimming with a devotion to something beyond the commonplace. A person without a dream, without a single-minded passion, poses no threat to the powers that be, nor to himself.

ARID persuades us that there’s safety in neutrality. That there’s little sense or satisfaction in winning a race that no one’s watching. That it’s better to be a serene boob than an exasperated artist. If stress kills, indifference makes us immortal.

Want to stay sane and live longer? It’s not enough to simply merely waste time. You’ve got to do what I do…and kick the crap out of it!


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