Friday, January 04, 2008

All the Ships at Sea

It is truly sad to watch your dearest friend, the person with whom you have shared an entire lifetime of joy and sadness, begins a steady, inexorable, albeit inevitable decline. To watch, helpless, as day by day the cruel nature of time take their toll. And it is doubly hard when the observer and the observed are the same person.

Dorien watches with sorrow often tinged with embarrassment, as Roger is gradually denied those things which have served him so well for so very many…though never enough…years. Neither Dorien nor Roger can understand why this is happening. It is simply not fair (an observation behind which, if you listen closely, you can here Fate chuckling). And while Dorien is totally free from Roger’s physical changes, both realize that the two are inexorably linked. When Roger comes to the end of his tenure of existence, Dorien also must leave. Roger is noble enough to wish with all his heart that this were not the case, but of course it is. Dorien looks at a bit more stoically, rather like the analogy of the captain going down with his ship. Which is not to say he is not selfish enough to wish it were different.

This particular blog was prompted by the fact that today was one of my drooling days, which embarrasses both my Roger and my Dorien sides tremendously. For someone with no salivary glands, I somehow manage to produce copious quantities of liquid from somewhere within my mouth, over which I no longer exerts the same control I once did. The result is that when I open it to speak, the liquid rushes out. Dorien teases him that he should wear a bib. Roger is not amused.

The reason for this preoccupation with what the Roger half of me is no longer able to do is primarily because the realization still shocks me. To go through the vast bulk of one’s life taking the simplest things for granted (opening one’s mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich, being able to tilt one’s head back far enough to drain a can of cola, standing with one’s shoulders against a wall and leaning one’s head back far enough to also touch the wall, being able to swallow anything without having to wash it down with milk, water, coffee, etc.) and then suddenly NOT being able to do any of these things was—and still, to a large degree, is—as incomprehensible to me as it must be to you. Dorien tries to be empathetic, and to understand, just as you do, but the fact is that no one who has not experienced these changes can possibly understand.

The more I think of the analogy of ship and captain, the more I relate to it. Every human being is, in effect, a ship on the sea of life, and every ship must eventually sink or go to the scrap heap. The Good Ship Roger is far from floundering just yet, but with each wave that washes over the bow, it is taking on water, and more and more time must be devoted to manning the pumps. To forestall the likelihood that the Roger, like most ships, will simply sink unnoticed beneath the surface of the sea, Dorien has taken on the task of preserving in detail as much of the ship’s log as possible. Books, blogs, letters; each is put into a bottle, and tossed into the sea; in hopes that someone, somewhere, sometime will find them and be aware that the Roger, while not the grandest of ships, was a proud and worthy vessel which once sailed the sea, and did not go down willingly.

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