7:17 pm - Sat 6.18.2011
Remember that thing I said in my last entry, about the secret to happiness being "forgetting the past"?
Forget I said that.
Remembering stuff is cool.
Cause I've had a few episodes of not remembering stuff recently that had me contemplating - seriously - the idea that I might have a touch of Alzheimer's.
I had a pretty rough time for awhile, with that thought taking up prime mental real estate (Especially before I talked to anyone about it); cause it's not just contemplating my own demise, it's contemplating my own demise in maybe the most unpleasant manner imaginable (The death of all my hopes and dreams, the idea of everything about me slowly disappearing, until I'm basically just an animated corpse, is the stuff of nightmares).
I've since talked to some people about it - just friends, not medical professionals - and feel like the terror has been pushed back to a manageable fenced-in area of my mind (Where you think about the worst things that could happen, but figure, somehow, they won't happen to you).
But even before I talked to anyone, and was seriously terrifying myself - "I have no money. I have no family. What the hell would I do?" - I felt myself hit a sort of wall; when push comes to shove, if I were to go get tested (And I'm adopting a "wait and see" attitude on that for now), I'd either find out I was fine ("Yay!"), or find out I wasn't fine.
And if it was the latter, there would be nothing to do but to accept the news (After the requisite rage and sadness) and do the best I could - soldier on as long as I could, try to hold onto "Jim Hoffmaster" as long as possible, until "Zombie Jim" takes over.
(Well, I could commit suicide - and in this scenario, it doesn't seem like an unreasonable option - but I don't think I would; I think it would be tough for me to do it while I was still "in control of myself" and could contemplate having "a little more time"...and after that, it would be too late.)
So if I don't have Alzheimer's (And Early-Onset Alzheimer's is comparatively rare, so the odds are in my favor), then I have nothing to worry about.
And if I do?
I don't really know - I've spent my life worrying about things that either don't happen, or turn out to be less catastrophic than I envisioned, so I don't know what things look like when you fear the worst...and the "worst" actually happens.
Well...at least it would "take the pressure off"; knowing that the career stuff wasn't going to happen, knowing that true love wasn't going to happen, knowing that my time as me was limited, would (Hopefully) put the focus on the here-and-now like it's never been before, and lead me to appreciate the simple joys, like watching tv or going to the movies, listening to music, enjoying a Skinny Cow ice cream.
Keeping a journal.
Talking to my friends...while I still recognized them as my friends.
The thought, "What if I have Alzheimer's?" had me thinking about a terrible future (Boy did it ever!), but it also had me thinking about the past, and my life up to this point.
One of the toughest parts of thinking about "The End", for me, is that I don't, by any stretch of the imagination, view my life as a "success"; I would definitely not get the news of my Alzheimer's diagnosis (Or any news that was basically a death sentence) and think to myself, "Well, I sure wish I had more time, but you know, it's been a great life...".
Long story short, I have next to nothing to show for fifty years on Earth.
But, as I told my friend Denise on the phone earlier today, the thing I would say, in my favor, even if I get to the end of the road and can't honestly define my life as a "success", is that "I kept trying".
I've had periods where I'd say I temporarily "gave up", or spent a great deal of time essentially just "avoiding pain", but on the whole, I've tried to figure out how to be happy, how to be whole, and I've always wanted to be decent and kind to others.
And I would say, in a couple respects, in recent years I've worked harder to "take the reins" of my own life than ever before - In particular, by "following my dream" of being a professional actor, and by reclaiming my body, after years of abusing food, through going to Weight Watchers.
And saying that I can't define my life as a "success" at this point - Meaning that if I were to die now, I'd die a "failure" - doesn't mean there hasn't been good times and laughter and happiness along the way.
I feel deeply guilty - mortified in some instances - about the pain I've inflicted on others, through my ignorance and focus on my own needs, my own pain.
But I've also said kind words to people, committed many small kindnesses, made people laugh, made people feel like they were good people, that they were needed and appreciated.
Hopefully, that they were loved.
And if my acting/performing "career" were over today, I wouldn't feel satisfied, but by the same token, a lot of people have been entertained by something I've done - somewhere, sometime - and I may not perceive it as "enough", but it's certainly not meaningless.
If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or if my mind is lost to Alzheimer's while my body merrily rolls along for another five or ten years, I just flat-out think that would suck; I would like to have more time to try to be a better person, a more fulfilled person, a more loving person.
I would like to feel like I wrestled the bad circumstances of my early life into submission, and created a good life, and became a good person.
But if I don't get that time, if the curtain comes down ahead of schedule (Ahead of my schedule, anyway), I wouldn't define my life as a "success"...but I would say it was a very noble "failure".
And it wasn't all bad.
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