Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IN CYBERSPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM

Don't make a sound. Shh. Listen: to the sound of a screed sent into the digital void.

It is cold here, cold and impersonal, and I like it — it reminds me that there is no longer any value in things that used to matter, like a handwritten note to a lover. Good thing, too, given my inability to write longhand. One month after the stroke, I was sure I'd be able to conquer this problem. Now I'm nearly 10 months in and I realize I was dreaming. My trusty left hand still betrays me; it wobbles and flutters like a kite caught in a capricious wind.

It is better this way. Better that I forget things that once held so much meaning, things I took for granted as lifetime anchors. I once knew I would always be able to take pen in hand and write words from my heart. Now I cannot write and my heart is plugged with concrete, and it is time to pour more fresh concrete into the growing hole and make it level. That's also what a screed is, after all — a leveling device drawn over freshly poured concrete, the sort of thing you might use to cover all evidence of your crime. With enough cement and a big enough screed no one will ever discover the grave.

It is better this way. In the cold digital world it's all 1s and 0s and it's easy to overlook the personal. The Land of Digital is a place where inconvenient and uncomfortable truths can be zapped into the ether, blocked from view and ignored without a second glance, the ultimate out-of-sight, out-of-mind paradise. Nothing is real here so nothing holds meaning. Nothing persists.

It is better this way. Better for an old dog to realize there are no new tricks, sometimes you're just an old dog and the treats you've been fed have not been given out of affection but out of pity and a low-grade loathing, and once that habit has played out the next trip is to the vet with the pentobarbital. Good old dog. Thanks for the fun times. Now be a good dog and behave and enjoy the big sleep.

In the end it is better when you keep your head down and become invisible, when the sunbeam stops tugging you and pulls the door shut quietly. Alone in the room with my thoughts and colorful world, I fall silent and listen — for the lonely bell and the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

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