Friday, February 26, 2010

Memento Mori



Today I woke up in A Mood.  This hasn't happened too frequently lately, and fortunately I recognised it before getting out of bed, even.  You know, the sort of mood where you just chronically fault-find with everything; trees are the wrong colour, the weather is unfairly curtailing your enjoyment of life, and so on.  I call it Grumpy.

"Oh well," thinkest I, "this too shall pass."  And I did my best not to bite my wife's head off about nothing, or be curt with the animals, and only failed a bit.  OK.  Today is Friday, which means the Gathering of The Form Guide, so Meeta can engage in the dual pastime of work and pleasure that is 'studying the form' for tomorrow's horse races.  I often go out to get it, I enjoy that sort of thing often, and it's a kindness I can offer.  Besides, I thought the outing might help my mood and our 'second car' really needed some use.  It has no aircon, and the daytime temperature has not dropped much below 40C these last weeks so we've been obviously preferring the other vehicle.  It was early, and not too hot yet.

The term memento mori comes from the art world, and refers to a work of art (usually a painting or a sculpture) whose purpose in part is to remind the viewer that they will die.  It's where we get the English word memento.  It can also refer to the habit of some painters from the medieval European period onwards to include little skulls tucked away in corners of paintings, and things like that.  In fact, the memento mori was a very common meme in that time, with royals carrying around pocket watches carved in the shape of skulls, and church and public art everywhere celebrating the theme of death.

So, down in our tiny shopping mall today, having bought the Form Guide, I had a memento mori moment courtesy of Wendy's.  For those elsewhere, Wendy's is a franchised chain of cheap 'n cheerful icecream/shake/donut/hotdog places, almost always in those tiny island stand-alones on shopping mall concourses.  They are hot pink and vile in every way.

As a child, I was rather partial to a lime thickshake.  Sickly sweet, evil green, thick fatty paper buckets of the stuff.  I didn't have them very often, as they made me feel a bit sick afterwards, but somehow this never stopped me wanting another one.  I was hungry today as I left the newsagents, and habitually glanced about for any quick and tasty treats with which I might reward myself and up my mood before heading back home.  In the next instant, maybe half a second's worth, I had two entirely antipathetic thoughts.  Simultaneously.  It's like when you're at the beach near the rocks and those sideways waves smash into each other.

From the left came the thought as I espied Wendy's that "I'm really up for a lime thickshake right now just like I used to have as a kid, and that's sort of funny because it's really the same consistency as....."

And from the right came "What a shit that you can't even enjoy the silly and simple pleasure of a childhood treat anymore, and somehow it's even worse because you know it would just make you feel sick....and you wouldn't care...."

And together these add up to a memento mori moment.  Because of course, I cannot eat.  Or drink.  Everything that goes into my stomach does so by way of my PEG tube.  And my feeds, whether canned formula or those I blend up myself, are about the same consistency as a thickshake.  I guess the poignancy is that there's a part of me that wants to splash out and enjoy those little things 'one last time' as I head slowly into my end-time (at least in my internal reality) and yet precisely because of the symptoms of my increasing decrepitude I just cannot.

Desire for lime thickshake = death.  Ha - in so many ways, now that I think about it.

Because when you die, you lose everything that comprises life in the 3rd dimension.  And I have lost so much of it already, yet I am still here, living well, or well enough!  This may be the definition of bittersweet.

I probably am not imparting the poignancy of it very well, but after a moment of abject soul-poverty, I found myself having a little gentle chuckle at the cosmic humour of it all, turning around, heading for home and a feed, and being thankful that I had been spared the ordeal of a lime thickshake. 

One last word on this.  I would really like to know who was responsible for the name of the canned formula that I use.  It's called Jevity.  I think it's a fabulous play on words, from longevity.  It's like saying "well, since you're using this formula chances are you won't be living all that long, but hey, you still have the Jevity part!  At least you're still alive!" 

\My mood is now restored, normal transmission has been resumed.

1 comment:

  1. Testing the comment function, is all.

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