Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Under the Sea


I remember one time this exhibit came to the city with information about the Titanic. At the beginning, each person received a little card with the name of one of the passengers or crew members printed upon it. When you reached the end, after seeing panel after panel of distressing news about preventable deaths and Tower of Babel type analogies, there was a wall. On this wall were printed all the names of people who died in the ship's sinking, and each person was meant to scan down the list to find the name printed on their card. My person survived. I went to the exhibit three times and it was always the same.

So the exhibit wasn't quite as dramatic as it might have been. Similarly, you receive a card at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. In this case, it isn't simply a name, but a brief life story and a picture, I believe. At the end, your heart is generally broken as you see this person's terrible end, merely in print but after hours of wandering through horrific images and documentary shorts, the image clearly returns to your mind. But, anyway, back to the Titanic.

At that exhibit, they had an iceberg, so that people could tell exactly how cold the temperatures must have reached when the ship sank and people were thrown into the water. You were asked to hold your hand there for thirty seconds, in comparison to the hours upon hours that the poor passengers and crewpeople were forced to endure or die from. If you managed to hold on for those thirty seconds, it became apparent how they must have felt, for you have already numbed. I hear that the people who died after floating in the water for some time generally either drowned, if they were unable to procure some sort of flotation device, or passed out from the cold and then passed away.

It must be a horrible death. I can't remember who said it exactly, but Alan Alda mentions a scientist in his second autobiography who asked not to have anesthetic at the time of his death. He said, and I paraphrase, "There's only one opportunity to experience this, and I'm not going to miss it." Imagine not even being granted that luxury.

Yet, I again digress, for the point of this rant is to proclaim that I want this numbness! The cold has been a constant enemy of mine over the years, but it might be worth enduring more than thirty seconds and more than a hand, being submerged, just to have some break from this feeling. It hurts and if I take the medication, my mind and my body dulls. The cold water must keep you awake, right? Like when you take a freezing shower to awaken yourself in the morning after staying up too late the previous night. The numbness of body without the numbness of mind. Like a paraplegic.

Isn't there some way to have that numbness of body without numbness of mind, yet still be in control of said body? Everything's about sacrifice. Tit for tat, right?

Anyway, I'm just ranting until the Vicodin kicks in. It's okay to be mentally "out of office" while you dream. I hope I don't have more nightmares. I'm watching Touching Evil, a show about serial crime detectives, so I get to have happy dreams of serial killers killing me or people I love in fascinatingly disturbing ways. The one last night involved puzzles. Ugh.


No comments: