Nine out of ten people say they have the most creative and insightful thoughts of the day while they are showering. I just made that up, but I dare anyone to prove me wrong.
I sometimes remember my dreams in the shower. I have the highest regard for people who dream about the future. I dream about the past. What I remembered dreaming, while showering this morning, was rummaging through my father’s desk drawer – the shallow one, above the knee hole. He had a heavy steel desk with a wood-grain Formica top. The drawer held the typical assortment of paper clips, rubber bands, pens and pencils – Dad was a fan of refillable “automatic pencils” (don’t see them much anymore). But he also had a fang-toothed staple remover, postage stamp dispenser, pipe-cleaning multi-tool, chrome-bladed letter opener, cigar guillotine, and other fascinating and in some cases mysterious implements and objects. To wake up and realize how long ago that was – how old yet vivid that memory is – was disorienting.
But that’s the way it is for most of us. The past is always getting bigger, the future always shrinking as we approach the end of our time line.
Which brings me to part 2, and I don’t have a segue for this, but it was somehow connected to the dream. We trust doctors with our lives. When we’re young, they remove the suspicious mole, set the bone, spare no expense to keep you alive and give you the best possible quality of life. And then, somehow, by the end of your life, they do nothing but advise “watchful waiting.” Caution that the surgery is more dangerous than the malady. Joke that if you live long enough, that brain aneurysm might kill you. My mother-in-law fell in the nursing home and broke her femur. The doctors didn’t even set it. My mother was given a death sentence instead of cure. And yet, we don’t think of this as betrayal of our trust. At some point in our lives, between the time they cut out our tonsils as a precaution and later, when they decide that setting our bones isn’t worth the trouble, we become a lost cause. And we accept it.
I think I’ve crossed that line with my MD. I’ve tried a lot of anti-depressants, to little effect. Now when I tell my primary I’m in the dumps, she just nods sympathetically and says, “Well, try to live with it.” Fortunately, most things do get better by themselves. And the things that don’t? Odds are, they won’t get better no matter what you do. Although, I have to say: getting the wax flushed out of my ears was an exhilarating experience. I felt years younger…for a couple days.