Dreadline


"I wonder what will keep me awake then."

I have a deadline looming. How is it that once a deadline's set, it does tend to loom, to threateningly hover over? I once took to calling these time marks 'stay awake dates' to try to ward off the associated sense of impending doom. The purpose of a deadline should probably not be to suck all the motive force out of the effort to meet that date, but they do seem to do exactly that, so I tried to associate those dates with a more positive moniker. Still, the inherent inevitability seemed to cloud my mind no matter how I tried to counter its influence. This particular Stay Awake Date seems more like a drop dead date, anyway. I'm really not trying to stay awake, but more interested in letting the time fly by so this date will fall behind me. This one represents a surgical procedure scheduled for tomorrow morning. I've been watching the countdown clock trudge away all day. It trudges exceedingly slowly.

I'm unlikely to drop dead once this drop dead date appears.
I'm hardly sanguine as the experience approaches, but can't quite muster more than a low-grade dread. The Muse could testify that I've just been hanging around. Other than self-administrating some mildly annoying eye drops, I have no assignment to complete between now and then. A single night's sleep and gumption enough to rise tomorrow morning and face the Monday morning rush stands between me and this event, so it seems likely that I'll show up on time and submit. Tolstoy insisted that there were no heroes on any battlefield, that nobody ever volunteers for battle, but must be coerced into those fights. Because of this, he insisted that all soldiers are cowards, and I can certainly relate. I didn't ask for this surgery and would have gladly cowed anywhere else had my doctor and The Muse not subtly ganged up on me. The doctor all optimistic, like it's no big deal, a two minute procedure, he touted. The Muse was all in, so it seemed like a violation of the spirit had I weaseled out. The coercion seemed subtle but plenty powerful enough.

I understand that I sometimes hold a responsibility to live up to others' expectations. Though I might be the object of the procedure, it's not just about me. I might be the least invested person in the deal. I'm supposed to see better after recovering, which should free up some of the dependency I've assumed since my eyesight started failing me. If I could feel more confident driving after dark, some pressure would be released for The Muse, who would't have to ferry me around at night. I could more confidently drive down to fetch her after work, so I might acquiesce less in the morning when she asked if I wanted to keep the car that day. When she takes the car, I'm effectively a prisoner in the house for the duration and so I tend to not get around much these days. She thinks I spend too much time alone, and alone time's the price of unreliable eyesight. Should I shirk this duty, I put undue pressure on The Muse, so I think of my agreement to submit as a sort of gift to her, albeit one contingent upon this procedure producing better results than the last one did.

So I'll show up. I expect this to feel like an out-of-body experience. To any casual observer, I'll certainly seem to be present, though by then, I expect to have psychologically so distanced myself from my senses that I'll move more like a zombie attracted to whatever's on the other side. I won't be afraid, at least not outwardly, though my blood pressure might spike and give away my ruse. I'll get through it. The doctor will give me some futuristic meds which will short circuit my ability to retain the procedure in long term memory, so it will seem, upon reflection, to have been hardly a blip. I'll wander back from the front lines without any visible scarring. I expect to feel overwhelmingly tired, but exhausted more from the long, slow anticipatory days than from actually meeting this deadline, drop-dead-date, or stay-awake date. By this time tomorrow, it will have passed and I will have nothing to dread. I wonder what will keep me awake then.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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