Out and about on the streets in New York, I generally found my head clogged with the most routine possible thoughts, if thoughts they really deserved to be called — about sex, about my finances, about what I might have for dinner, and so on. But here in Cancerland, I have musings instead of thoughts. Faux-profound, doubtless, but certainly of a different order than what was in my braincase before.
For instance, this, on my way toward a couple of pouches of beneficial poison in colorless liquid form, at the rate of 500 drops per minute:
Is longevity a reward or a punishment? If you are a nut-brown octogenarian whistling your way up the Jungfrau, hawser-like legs bare in lederhosen and with alpenstock in hand, then, needless to say, your extra years are a blessing to you.
But if you are sitting in your own feces in a wheelchair in the corner of a room that smells of onions and sadness, well, in that case, you do not, nor do those who care at all for you, pray for extra birthdays. This is obvious, of course. But what can be derived from this truth is perhaps not so obvious. Certainly it is not obvious to those back home in the States, where these days we Americans all expect as a birthright to live eight or nine or, hey, what the hell, maybe a dozen decades, given the glories of science and good nutrition and all that. Sky’s the limit, no?
But the Cancerlander has reason to understand the silliness of that: The number of years you live is not determinative. If you are a bony-assed geezer with a clear plastic tube for a mustache, bent almost parallel to the street over the handlebars of a walker, no one is going to clap you on the back to say, Hey, congrats, you old goat. Made it to ninety, huh? Good for you.