I HAVE NOTHING on my mind right now. Nothing! I’m eager to capture in words the chaos of thought and feeling that occupies body and brain, yet when I order them to line up and be described, there’s nothing. Nothing worthwhile, anyway, or so whatever it is that dispatches said thoughts and said feelings to wherever it is they dwell wants to assure me.
|Photo by B. A. Nilsson|
What’s next? Romance, I suspect, although I believe that at my age it’s termed “family.” Having been married for 31 years – 29 of them to the woman to whom I remain married – I’m so far from the world of dating that it would seem quaintly nostalgic were I not the father of a young woman on the brink of that world. I’ve done my best to reassure her that the World of Boys is as emotionally unstable as it seems, if my own high-school behavior is any indication, but that she shouldn’t be discouraged. Really
Her mother and I spent her formative years learning not to fight with another, with the unexpected result that we get along better than ever, and it’s never been very bad. But you’re already yawning and looking away from the page, because the only place where harmony isn’t dull is in music, and even then it can get on your nerves.
Lest this should seem as if my life actually is some state of unrelenting wonderfulness, fear not. I lie awake nights a-simmer with anxiety as my wife slumbers alongside. When I wake her to point out the passive cruelty of snoring in earshot of an insomniac, she patiently asks me to list what it is that’s on my mind.
You guessed the answer. Nothing. Nothing, that is, that easily can be put into words. The threat of scrutiny sends the anxiety components scurrying and I seem like a fraud. “That’s okay, honey,” she says with a yawn. “I’m sure whatever it is that’s bothering you is real to you.”
I had the hope that my nocturnal anxiety at least would make me unique, but wrong again. Everybody my age to whom I’ve bitched about it reports a similar affliction. Most of them throw some manner of anti-anxiety medication at it. I worry that, were I to do so, I’d chase too many other neuroses away, and some of them are old and trusted friends.
My body is falling apart. When I finally do get to sleep, my weight-taxed joints reward me in the morning by refusing to properly function until I’ve limped from bed to bathroom and on downstairs, and even then I get reminders throughout the day that ankles and knees and shoulders and hips share a vivid vocabulary of complaints. But it’s, first, an inevitable result of a sedentary life, making it, second, my own damn fault, and why should I bore you and embarrass myself with anything more on the subject?
Funny how the perceived burden lifts as I disqualify one problem after another. As I noted at the beginning, I have nothing on my mind, but the process of dismissing them is proving salutary enough that I may even get some sleep tonight.