I started watching the series “Ozark” the other evening. It’s good. Really good actually. Dark and foreboding, an intricate display of how complicated humans often are. We’re all multi-dimensional. We struggle with making choices all of the time. We balance decisions based on need, want, necessity. Many of us try to use some sort of moral compass to guide us to making the “best” decisions. Obviously “Ozark” is an extreme, fictional example of this, but it got me thinking.
The main character, Marty Byrd, constantly needs to come up with clever ways to get himself out of precarious situations. Despite having a brilliant problem-solving mind he always finds that two or more new situations will arise before he can celebrate his latest success at dodging the inevitable: his untimely demise.
As a caregiver this is what Alzheimer’s feels like to me. In a way I am Marty Byrd.
I balk at the thought of “The List.” This is the simple moniker I’ve given the series of tasks that I constantly have looming over my consciousness. This list causes me to have stress dreams at night. It invokes an irrational need to bite and pick at my fingers for hours at a time. The List is always with me though I choose not to carry it.
Tasks are constantly crossed off this list, but the length of it never shortens because new tasks are always added. Responsibilities. Decisions. Phone calls to execute. Legal and medical obstacle courses to navigate. Things to repair or clean or purge. People to please. Egos to negotiate with. Finances to manage. Groceries to buy. Advice to weed through. Self-education about this whole process.
At times I wonder to myself, “Is this life? Will I always feel this way, even when Mom is gone? Even after she passes will I always have ‘The List’? And will it forever be just as long as it ever was?”
I’ve also thought about what it would be like if there were a reset button. Would I press it? Would starting over really matter in the end? I might not have to deal with the same problems, but I certainly would have problems nonetheless.
And then this leads me think, what is the meaning of all this? I’m not looking for anyone to give me an answer. Frankly, I don’t think anyone has one, or at least the right one. But as a human I’m apt to ponder this from time to time, so I do just that.
I squint at the Milk Way or into my mother’s eyes, and silently ask “Why?” a thousand different ways in a thousand different tongues.
There is no audit that can flush out an answer, but still I ask.
My daydreams are of uninterrupted afternoons, of highways I will never recall the name of and places tucked out of view from others. I fantasize about waking up with the sunrise from the confines of my tent for every day of the moon’s cycle. In my dreams I breathe salt laden air, hear the sucking of mud underneath my boots as they trek about. In my dreams I don’t care what day it is or how long until my next destination. I arrive when I arrive, exactly as I please. In my dreams there is no list, there is no worry wrapping around my throat.
Maybe the meaning of life, my life, is to make it take shape in the form of my dreams. The mediums I use may not be of my choosing, but at least I can work to mold it into a close manifestation, taking care to be mindful of others along the way.