Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Hard Could It Be

I'm not a big misser. It's one of the benefits of ADD; I'm easily distracted. By the time most people have just begun to sink into the depths of longing, I've, um, well, moved on. A new destination rolls over the horizon in the landscape of my mind and I jump back on the bus that we call life.

It's not that I forget. I just don't miss. I don't miss places. I don't miss things. I don't miss people. My not missing leads to better not-forgetting. I remember, well, everything.

Nope, I don't miss, at least not in that deep-longing, can't-get-over-it kind of way.

However, sometimes while riding the bus to a new destination, I miss. I sit in the back of the bus gazing out the window at nothing in particular and puzzle. I puzzle a lot. I puzzle and puzzle and puzzle and then... eureka, the puzzle yields, the answer emerges. I pull out my iPhone to text my discovery to my friend Jonathan. Half way through my exuberant explanation it occurs to me that Jonathan's gone and I miss. I don't miss often. I don't miss for long. However, when I do miss it's as though all the long and frequent missing that most people experience gets packed it into a tiny, high-voltage delivery system and bam.

And then I get distracted.

When Jonathan first found out that he had cancer, he called me to tell me how we were going to figure it out. "How hard could it be?", he said.

I agreed. Jonathan did the academic legwork, consuming volumes of text, filtering out the junk and distilling the core. He'd tell me what he'd discovered. I'd tell him what I'd figured out. We'd conjecture, hypothesize, argue and refine. I'd puzzle, he'd study. We were a good team.

I'd text him saying, "I've been thinking about thus and such and there's no way that..."

He'd text back saying, "You're right. I'm gonna ask my doctor about..."

Our conversations were, well, different. To an observer it might have appeared that we couldn't hold course, that we jumped from idea to idea, topic to topic. It wasn't that. It was just that we didn't spend time on the obvious stuff. We'd simply move from peak to peak and skip over the valleys of verbal filler and unessential prose. Neither of us felt the need to express ourselves. Neither of us needed to be heard. We talked to further our effort.

I miss that.

We were squadron-leader and wingman roaring through mazes of computational complexity and multilevel abstraction, each pushing the other to go harder, faster.

Our flying time was limited to times when we were alone, or when we were with just Iris. Others would feel uncomfortable with our banter. Jonathan would attend to their discomfort, listening to complaints about carpet colors or boasts of drinking prowess. I'd sit quietly puzzling.

In the end, we ran out of time. In one of out last conversations, Jonathan said, "Nothing that anyone is working on is going to work. They're chasing the funding, not the problem."

"I know", I said. "No one's getting back to the source. All the treatments are always a step behind and it's only by chance that they work."

Jonathan said, "If only I'd taken that inorganic chemistry course. If only I had access to some good labs and lab techs. If only I had more time."

I asked, "What would do?"

But Jonathan, didn't respond. He'd decided that he wouldn't have the time and he wasn't one to hang onto old plans. He was done.

We'd have figured out. After all, how hard could it be.

But sometimes you just run out time. Then you choose. You get back on the bus, or you don't.

Happy Tuesday,
Teflon

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking us along in the bus with you, Tef.

    ReplyDelete

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