Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Drinking from the river of wishful thinking

Yesterday morning I had this sense that my blood pressure might be high. I'd had a physical earlier this year in which the readings came in a tad high. I failed to keep the follow up appointment intended to analyze this issue. But somehow, lately, I feel something that I associate with high blood pressure. So on my way to take my walk, I stopped in a Tom Thumb grocery store. They have a free blood pressure machine there. I dislike the process of having my blood pressure taken, as the pressure always makes me wonder if my arm will pop like a balloon. Sure enough, the reading was solidly in the "above normal" ranges. I decided that I must re-set that doctor's appointment, remove caffeine from my life once more, and return to my former patterns of healthier eating.
Today I did without my proverbial passel of diet cokes. I feel a mild sense of withdrawal. The webMD article suggested I take it slow--but it's Thanksgiving in Canada. Hence, cold turkey.

I have pulled off caffeine before, always finding my life slightly more livable after I do so. Yet in the past, I've reverted back over time. In high school, I once decided to
stop being sarcastic. Those who know me may realize this is a big step for me. I am one of those people more oriented toward the ironic and sarcastic in my daily humor than to other modes. But for weeks at a time, I avoided making any jokes at anyone's expense. I tried not to feign one thing, when I sarcastically meant another. Guess what? The sky opened, people responded more favorably, and the world became for me a more peaceful place. By my freshman year of college, I had reverted to form. I find that these dramatic changes of personality, possible in the hormonal rushes of teenage years, fade after some weeks.

I read the internet today about whether my dramatic caffeine intake could affect my blood pressure. By coincidence, while webMd had a strong "maybe", the coffee lobby website had a solid "no".

I had a momentary vision tonight, as I was about to tuck into my (not red meat, not fried, not fast food) chicken and my (compromise) rolls. I imagined what it would be to think myself a poet instead of a lawyer. Now, let's set out ground rules for a moment here. I do not consider myself a poet, in any vocational sense of the word. I am probably far more a lawyer than I even guess, as it seems to be a profession which uniquely sparks my interest. But I said "what if?". What if I determined the point of my life were writing poetry? How would that work for me?

My mind began running things together as if I were so many gift wrapping temps at a department store Christmas. Suddenly, I had a job which took forty hours a week, with minimal stress. I owned or rented the smallest house into which I could fit, to remove the stress of earning a lot of money from my life. I spent my evening and weekends writing poetry, as if it were poetry that really mattered to me most.
Suddenly, all the things I do to work or live were altered into those things I would do in order to be able to support my poetry. Exercise? Yes. I would want to create a substantial body of work. Eat right? Yes. Same reason, plus, to my mind, whether right or absurd, a creative minded person should be physically ascetic--hedonism has its virtues, but the work, the work, the work, that's what matters. If I were a poet, suddenly everything in my life would have a focus around writing verse. The exercise was fun and interesting--a matter of self-definition.

Today an author of a chess book I reviewed on wrote me a polite e mail to disagree with one aspect of my review. We had a pleasant e mail exchange, and, as is often the case, our differing viewpoints did not reflect substantive differences in opinion so much as differing ways to look at an issue, resulting in opposed ways of phrasing things. I imagined what it must be like to be, like my correspondent, a master and an oft-published chess author.
How would I have to change my life to raise my rating? I imagine that when I retire I'll play chess much more seriously. But will it make a difference to my rating?
Will it matter whether it does?

Suddenly tonight the "sansiviera" (snake plant) mailing list is alive with missives about fertilizer, specimen acquisition and inner snake plant circle politics. I have dropped mailing lists before when they generated mail, which I suppose is paradoxical, but too much of a good thing and all that. I wonder what it would be to active in some circle in people "in the know" on raising some offbeat plant, or
to be an entomologist who studies only two species of ants.

The jockey Shoemaker died this weekend. He was only 72. Seventy two is less than thirty years off for me. What could I accomplish in that space of time? I hear the sound of snipping thread sometimes.

They say the River Lethe provides the newly dead with draughts of forgetfulness. I can imagine this could help some people, if it came in diet form, in 20 oz. bottles.
But the rivers from which I drink seemed to be filled with hopes and wishes. Some of them are foolish, vain hopes. I hope I can get to be an Amazon top 500 reviewer again, instead of the Amazon top 1000 status I have now. What can that possibly matter? I hope to run a successful chess tournament--I think I've located a great venue, and now it's a matter of making sure it won't cost too much. That project has a purpose, even though I know from a bad Little League experience when I was a teen that I am not one of life's natural umpires. Why not submit more poems for publication?
Well and good, but I should write far more than I do if that is my goal.

Aspiration--The asp I ration, bite by bite, its fangs sinking less deep each time. I grow numb to the ambition over time. Perhaps that is the River Lethe's gift--one forgets all one hoped to be and become. But some days I wake up, content with my lot; other days, I feel my blood pressure is a bit high, and I am soon reading of caffeine and thinking of personal trivia.

It's so easy to lull oneself to sleep. It's so easy to be up all night, sleepless. I think I'll get some iced water, and settle in to daydream.
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