Pieces Of You
a futile future
9:05 a.m.., Friday, May. 05, 2006
- -- -
He nods slightly, his eyes, grey with bags beneath, shift from his notepad to focus on me directly.
"You've been seeing the future?"
I nod, fully comprehending how ludicrous it sounds.
"How far into the future, Sam?"
I shrug my shoulders. "Just a few minutes now and then."
He nods, looking down once again at his notepad.
He's got an odd hairstyle for a man his age. Parted on the side, but long enough in front to have to comb to the side. It's quite wavy.
"And what do you see in the future, Sam?"
I shrug again. "Not much."
"I see." He shifts position, lifting one leg and crossing it over the other the way ladies and older men do when getting ready to make their point.
"It's only just started since I've been on the beta blockers."
He nods again.
"When does this happen?"
Surprised by the question, I immediately begin searching through my memory. Paging through the days that led up to my sitting here.
"Mainly in the late afternoon," I try.
He nods. I imagine him for a moment with beard and glasses.
"Tell me what happens, exactly, please."
I pause a moment, putting myself at my desk at work. The cubicle around me. My co-workers all going about their business. The computer on my desk in front of me, the cursor blinking, awaiting my next command.
"I'll be working on something, and then look down or away, and when my eyes return, I'll see something on my computer that hasn't been done yet. I'll see all the solutions to problems I've been working on, or a list of appointments I've yet to make. It'll be all there on my computer screen." I pause, remembering. "But only for a moment."
He nods. "And then what happens?"
"Well, then I stare at the computer for a moment, confused, even though this has happened now several times."
"Quite naturally," he allows.
"And then, I get this dark feeling, like I'm going to pass out."
He furrows his brow. Impressed with his concern, I press on.
"And then, it's just like when you stand up too sudden sometimes, how you feel lightheaded, and stand there waiting for things to clear."
"And when they do?"
"Everything is back to where I'd been moments before."
"With all that work ahead of you," he says, a smile creeping into his eyes.
I nod. "It is a bit depressing."
"Completely understandable," he aggress.
He makes a note on his pad.
"What's wrong with me Doctor?"
"Well, I could be wrong," he says, looking eager to chew his pen, "but there is this thing called Donagels Paradox."
I nod, suddenly feeling warmer.
"Quite naturally, in the literature they don't use the term paradox, of course." He giggles softly at his own private joke. "They call it a syndrome, I believe."
This time it's my turn to furrow my brow.
"It's believed the mind has several means of keeping time. To keep itself on track, so to speak."
I nod, not understanding a thing just yet.
He twiddles his pen. "For example, when you have a memory of the past, your mind needs to have a way of stopping your perception of current time, to allow you to feel the passage of prior time as you experience your memory."
He sat back smiling. "You see?"
"And all the while it is running this memory time, it must have some sort of other timer going on so that when you return to conscious thinking, you will be able to note that some bit of real time has passed while you were busy contemplating the past."
He smiled slight, amused at his telling. "Right?"
I nodded, secure in the knowledge that there would be more.
"In short," he continued, "we have many ways of keeping track of time." He spun his hand about in the air. "Many clocks if you will."
I nodded, suddenly aware of time passing that I would never get back.
"Now then," he said, ignoring my unenthusiastic response, "What if one of these clocks were to go bad?"
He raised his eyebrows, stretching the skin along with them
I shrugged, believing it was a rhetorical question.
"Say one of your internal clocks was to run too slow, for instance." He traced the hands of that imaginary clock in the air with his pen, and showed me them slowing."
I didn't react.
"You with me?"
I tilted my head slightly to one side, then nodded.
"Okay, so say if the one clock in your head that keeps track of where you are in time at any given moment, the real clock time, we'll say, begins to slow, without you being aware of it."
I take a deep breath, but keep listening.
"But another of your clocks keeps right on going at the proper speed." He looks around the small office. "The one that runs during memories, perhaps."
I sit still, waiting for the punch line.
He scrunches his face a bit, clearly aware that his line of thinking is slowly sinking into the soft reflections of the linoleum floor.
"Okay, say one part, the most conscience part of you, the clock that is running that part, goes too slow. And while that is happening, real time passes, and you're still processing that past stuff." He pauses for a breath. "And then, for a moment a part of your brain sees the now that is happening on your computer screen, right?"
He doesn't wait for my reaction.
"And then, you suddenly snap back to where your mind had taken you, in that past memory, and because you just saw what was happening in the present for that instant, you think you saw the future."
He smiles broadly, clearly relieved he'd finally got it out.
"It's just a possibility," he says.
I ponder all the questions I could ask, but he beats me to the punch.
"The beta blockers," he says.
"For high blood pressure," I add.
"You've had the sensation where you are awake but you know that a part of you is still asleep?"
I nod. "I hear myself snoring a lot."
"Exactly. It's very similar to that, because there are several different parts of the brain involved in sleep. In your case, the beta blockers have caused some parts of your brain to be asleep, while another, your conscience part, is wide awake.
I nodded, starting to believe.
"So, if this is what's happening, what can I do about it? It's very disconcerting."
"I suspect that it occurs when you start to get tired. And that in fact this whole seeing the future thing, is very closely related to the sleep phenomenon you've just described.
"So, what, I go take a nap?"
He chuckles. "Completely up to you."
I nod, slightly disappointed.
He smiles gently. "You were hoping?"
"I was, maybe a little."
He smiles. "Aren't we all?"
previous entry - next entry