My plan for today was to, among other things including a whole new level of physical effort in my daily walk, review what I have written and get some serious work done on my hobby, model railroading.
Regarding model railroading, for me it is far more than playing with trains, and it has consistently been my hobby since I got my first Lionel train set and put it around the Christmas tree at maybe age six or so. Very briefly, it is my art form, something to which I devote a great deal of time, energy, and effort, and is immensely satisfying. It involves a great deal of historical research, a high level of proficiency in the craft of creating the structures and scenery, not to mention electronic wizardry to get the trains moving in a prototypical way. It's Disneyland for adults. It has been this way all my life; it is my refuge, my therapy, and gives me great pleasure. I have a website devoted to this particular addiction of mine which can be seen here:
After coming to Santa Fe, I wanted a "handle", or nickname, to use on the website above, something whimsical with a railroad flavor. I decided upon "El Loco," since it can mean either "the locomotive", or "the crazy one." Somehow that duality appealed to me, and it is now my nickname and often appropriately used.
Now back to my story. Liz was running errands, and I sat down at my computer to turn on some music and attend to a few fiscal details of our life, then move on to my hobby.
I found, to my great surprise, that I was having difficulty with some aspects of my laptop, and other physical parts of my surroundings, as if I had forgotten some basics. I tried several different ways of solving the problem, which was almost intuitive in the past, and found I had to completely rethink the process, from the beginning, to get it done. And I failed the first two or three times.
I began to experience a state of panic, was glad that Liz wasn’t here to see it, and a very deep feeling of dread came over me. It’s hard to describe not being able to do something that one could have easily almost done in their sleep previously, and yet to fail to do when wide awake. Ultimately it did come back, I felt foolish, dismissed it as an aberrant happening, and proceeded on my way unimpaired.
However, the first glimmer of ultimate crashing absolute mind-numbing panic was still there, buried in the background. I was no longer in denial. This was the first time. And it had happened so early in whatever this process is (finally succumbing to Alzheimer’s)? My self-confidence was, and is, seriously eroded. I found the experience “interesting”, as I sit here typing this about a half hour after it occurred.
Which of course reminds me of another story. In my earlier years on the west coast, I occasionally experimented with psychedelics as part of the ongoing countercultural movement at the time, all in a safe and supervised way so that there was no danger of any sort of “problem” that might come up, as some had predicted based on differing experiences and surroundings. My lasting experience of those sessions were that not only did they enhance my experience of life, but that I became a more fully open, honest, happy, and far more available human being. I shall always be grateful for those extraordinary experiences.
I will not spend much time on this part of my life, but I can absolutely say I learned more about myself, other people, humanity, and the ultimate meaning of life than I had any time before or after. It transformed my experience of living. I do not recommend nor necessarily promote this, except in safe places with understanding and experienced people as “guides”, but I would not give up those experiences and what I learned for anything. They have forever after informed me in the ways of the universe on my path forward.
One time I was in such a safe and supervised session, and with me was a good friend (older Irish male) who had a highly unusual and finely honed sense of humor, as I did, and we used to laugh together during some of those sessions at what we were experiencing within ourselves. The atmosphere was mostly reverential, quiet, and people generally remained in their own inner experiences and introspections, eyes closed, listening to very beautiful and quite moving music.
At some point, my friend and I opened our eyes, looked at each other, and agreed that what we were having was an “interesting” experience. We both smiled, laughed a bit, and he leaned over and said: “Interesting can be euphemism for stark terror!”
At that, we both burst out into laughter, disturbing the others, and kept on laughing for several minutes, to release the experience we both had been having at the same time (not an unusual thing). It certainly grounded us, and to this day we recount that terrifying time with the release of laughter. It doesn’t translate well into words, and I suppose you had to be there, but it is one of my favorite memories and experiences, from the standpoint of my life these many years later.
The weird and absurd aspects of life can indeed be very informational. What I had today was an interesting experience, transitory, yet fearful.