The well-known term, writer’s block, needs little explanation; the inability to think about what to write, or how to proceed with writing. Merriam-Webster defines the condition as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.” Others have mused and written on the condition, telling of their frustrations, seeking others’ counsel, admitting inadequacies, shooting blanks (spoken in a literary sense). I muse to say the purported writer’s block is a writer’s admission of being human, without conceding they are no different than anyone else.
Tossing, turning, awakening, attempting to comprehend, words, images, failing woefully; watching text float, disappearing into the unknown, seemingly propelling me into the same unknown space. Describing such a condition as writer’s block is too kind, almost dismissive. A more telling description – The sprinkling of invisible dust – by someone, something – in the cranial cavity, while placing locks on all windows to the world, rendering one a proverbial idiot. No dictionary definition, my definition. How about this as an alternative definition? – Gathering collective thoughts, ideas, images (collected over time, stored for prosperity sake, and later use) in a dust-pan, then a wheel-barrow, moving to the edge, dumping all contents into the abyss, rendering the subject, plain, simple, stupid. With that, my admission – such has been my wont.
The human brain weighs 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) – approximately – making up around 2 percent of our body weight. The brain operates as the command center for the human nervous system, “receiving input from the sensory organs”, sending “output to the muscles.” This rudimentary explanation of brain function is to make clear the later part worked, sending output to muscles, compelling functions; the former did not. World and local events have meant nothing. Seeing, reading about matters which normally serve as an insult to my understanding of history of the world, politics, religion have had no effect; frozen, seized in time and place, caring little of events, war, famine, crime, deceit – so be it.
The bane of the medical profession is not single-payer health insurance. The health care industry represents 17.8 percent of the American economy. Even in my current condition (feeling as if I have been handed a dumb-down membership card from the Zombie Apocalypse Club), I have figured out the profession/industry’s greatest threat – internet research. Giving us too little information, and even that information over our heads because our lack of knowledge base, assuming we can become competent by reading an incomplete explanation of terms, concepts and conditions someone has spent years studying, causing us to become dangers to ourselves. I muse to say, I am no different. In searching for answers, I read, “Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a symptom of Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees.” Moving back, away from the computer, grasping the chair, holding my breath, thinking, not thinking, counting signs, diagnosing, self-diagnosing, dismissing the notion of a temporary condition, jumping logical chains, assessing my condition. My, my, my, I knew I should have eaten more spinach!
Years ago, I was requested to take on a death penalty case in which the condemned man’s lawyer had just died. The State of Texas in its good wisdom thought it wouldn’t look good to execute a man just after his lawyer died. In this void I received a call from a local district judge (I. A. Lerner). Judge Lerner informed me that an execution date was pending (“you can probably get the date moved”, as if this information was comforting), that the Court of Criminal Appeals had just recently affirmed the sentence of death (something I had read about in the newspaper), and that the condemned man needed a new lawyer (I remember His Honor inserting the word, “immediately”). My mental synapses were sharp enough to know there was no mystery as to whom he (the good judge) thought the new lawyer should was going to be. Before terminating the conversation, “His Honor” informed me the county had no money to pay for my anticipated good favor. Tendering the man’s name, providing a case number and his location in the prison system, thanking me, terminating the conversation; I thanked him (for what I don’t know) (maybe this was the first sign of early Alzheimer’s).
Working under an impossible timeline, rifling through thousands of pages, grading another lawyer’s trial and appeal work, looking for any error which would stop the execution – was my task. Day and night, day and night, day and night – three weeks with little or no sleep; travelling from court to court, preparing hundreds of pages of briefing, counting the time – the days, hours – before the execution. Ignoring all signs of trouble, speech, balance, the loss of fine motor skills; incessantly talking, taking a seat on the floor, recounting what had to be done next, never seeing the Gods reach and turn off the lights, falling fast asleep in mid-sentence, never completing the thought, being stripped of every sign of life, save a deep sleep – out cold. Told later, not remembering any of events leading to the mind shutting all impulses, shutting down, refusing to further participate in the body’s demise.
So maybe my current condition is a temporary one, which has lingered for two/three weeks; maybe it is not. Life has a funny way of letting us know – when the internal insult returns, becoming too much; words, images, events causing one to protest internally, then verbally, or even by the use of the written word; telling the good story, the colorful tale, or to participating in resisting when the synapses can take no more. We’ll see.