Generally speaking, there are two reactions to a terminal diagnosis. The first is to try and cram as much life as possible into the time remaining – you become obsessed with completing bucket list items, reaching out to estranged loved ones, and generally doing all of the things that you swore you’d get around to but never did. Your remaining life becomes a frantic race against time. The second reaction is to go about life as usual; either through pragmatism or complete denial, nothing really changes about your day-to-day.
I’m absolutely in the second camp. I’m a complete pragmatist. And honestly, I just don’t have the energy to be at first kind. There are a lot of things to do that I would have liked to complete, but I’m not going to devote my life to checking off boxes. I will go out of my way to see more shows and hang out with those I love more, but really that’s about the only concession I’ve made. I’d have loved to go to Japan, and I could probably still make that happen if I REALLY wanted to, but now it’s just too much of a pain in the ass.
To a lot of people this probably seems like I’m wasting what little time I have left. I spend the vast majority of my time at home, in bed, screwing around on the Internet, and hanging out with my cats and my best friends. This is exactly what I would be doing if I did not have a terminal disease. It suits me just fine.
While I’m screwing around on the Internet though, I usually have something playing on the television. There are a set list of things that are probably on my television at any given time, even when I’m sleeping. Nature shows, Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, science programs like Cosmos or anything by Brian Cox, Invaders Zim, Monty Python. Those are the main ones. There are also movies that I will watch over and over like Clue, The Last Unicorn, Nightmare Before Christmas etc. Even if I’m not really paying attention, it’s on-screen. I don’t tend to watch new programs very often, even though I have a lot of time in which to consume new media. I’m literally in bed all day, with nothing better to do. I could be watching all kinds of new things. But no. It’s David Attenborough.
My friends expressed concern over this habit, not as a criticism of my lifestyle so much as concerned that one day I will feel like I’ve wasted what time I had. Sometimes I think about that, but overall I’m really not worried about it. I’m doing exactly what I feel like doing. I did, however, talk to my therapist about it, about how I kind of feel like at least I should be watching something different. But the usual shows are just so comfortable. He told me it’s because they’re safe; I know what’s going to happen, there are no nasty surprises waiting for me in it. My real life is complicated enough and I just want to give my brain a break.
My therapist is an extremely clever man.
He’s absolutely right – that’s exactly what it is. I have a real hard time reading any new books or watching any new television because I don’t know what’s going happen. I’m nervous that this new media is somehow going to somehow betray me. It might seem a little bit ridiculous, but due to the way that my brain is wired, new media is very much like meeting someone new. Wholly unpredictable and it feels unsafe. If someone introduces me, I have some kind of endorsements and some kind of assurance that things aren’t going to go sideways, but usually I hang out with the ones I already know because I can relax.
The other day I got brave and binged the entirety of Fleabag.
This was a very bold decision on my part, a little reckless. I’d seen some clips though, and a lot of people told me it’s hilarious, and it’s won a lot of awards. So I watched all of it.
I genuinely regret watching the show.
It’s a black comedy. It is brilliant, the writing is amazing, the actors are wonderful and it absolutely deserves all the praise and awards. And it is ABSOLUTELY not for me. There are genuinely hilarious moments in it, but for the most part it’s just watching this woman’s life become a complete train wreck. Every time she gets a little bit of a break something knocks her three steps back. She’s kind of a toxic person so she digs her own holes, but most of the people in her life are also just genuinely horrible people who say and do terrible things to her. Because I’m an optimist, I kept watching and expecting things to turn around for her. But no. The show ends in a complete heartbreak. And it completely destroyed me.
I was up watching until 5:30am and I was up until 9am crying like the heartbreak was my own. And for the entire next day I was in a really deep melancholy. Because of all of this I have a renewed dedication to watching the same shows over and over and over. I’m safe there. That sucked. My life is indeed entirely too dramatic already. The only drama I need to add to it is whether or not that cheetah catches up to the zebra.
I may be wasting my life away, but I’m comfortable. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Boring is sometimes the best thing in the world. Some people need to spend the rest of their time climbing mountains and composing operas, and I’m just not like that. I chose to work for as long as I could, and I will happily spend the rest of my time playing video games and eating junk food and petting my cats and learning about cool creatures.
Programs about arthropods are my favorite.