This season I managed to fight off the deadening effects of winter for a long time. It is a lot like a limb that has been pinned by an unusual resting position; as long as you wiggle your toes or make an occasional adjustment you can prevent it from falling asleep. But eventually you grow tired of the maintenance and realize that enough time has passed where the body part, once a supple and vital instrument of your physical expression, has become this inert thing that may as well be dead. That is what winters have always been like for me. It is the cold that does it, and if there is snow that only adds shovelfuls of heavy earth to the cooling grave of my spring-summer-fall momentum. One of these years I am going to take the advice of the doctor who first diagnosed me with depression (long since recovered through exercise and cultivating a positive mental attitude) and winter in Arizona or, better yet, Australia.
I have been spending a lot more time with the video game consoles than I have with the pen and paper. To me, activities exert variable levels of gravity. I, a glittering satellite that meanders through the void, am drawn into orbits that depend on the seasons and how aware I am of the passage of time. So far it has been enough to know that these arcs swing such that I am pulled out of any dangerous descents before burning up in an abrasive atmosphere. Some day, maybe, I will settle into a stable ellipse around something—writing or gaming or physical exercise—but I suspect that such a fixation is a pipe dream. Not to get dour but everything is doomed to decay, it is just the nature of things. If we flare out in a spectacular display of burning debris or drift out of contact into the black makes little difference on the quality of our individual flights. Are you tired of this metaphor yet? I am.
I got a PlayStation 5. I swore I was going to wait for the inevitable slim version and had been successful at not buying a launch system due to the shortage, but I was wandering through London Drugs one morning in the blighted zone known as Port Place Mall when I noticed, high on a ladder-accessible shelf, a ready for sale unit. I spent my monthly stipend and brought it home, but not before crossing the parking lot with the naked box held by its convenient plastic handle like a soldier crossing a no man’s land, terrified of machine guns or, in this case, ne’er-do-well muggers. I do not enjoy the “downtown” of Nanaimo, never have, and it has only gotten worse since we moved here a decade ago. Now with the decriminalization of hard drugs—the police can catch you with up to 2.5 grams of cocaine, meth, heroin, MDMA, or fentanyl and not only will they let you walk but you can take your baggie with you—I doubt my feelings toward the place are going to reverse course any time soon.
The PlayStation is a nice system. I have been a PS Plus Premium member for a long time now and was pleased to see that all the games I cared about were sitting in the “free” catalog. I was further surprised to find that the number of new titles for PlayStation 4 still outnumber supposed next gen titles by a huge margin. It is the same on Xbox, though. There are only a handful of reasons to own a Series X/S, especially if you are a gamer who does not care about the bleeding edge of performance. But between the new console and the existing ones, the ease of crawling under warm blankets far from the demands of the Words, I have spent very few hours in front of the computer these past weeks, and fewer still on the treadmill and gymnastic rings. But like all orbits these will, in time, shift come back around again, as surely as winter turns into spring.
I would love to be able to claim total social media abhorrence. There is still one Twitter account that I regularly check. It belongs to a former friend who holds radical leftist views and as such I find their Likes a cornucopia of fascinating dementia.
This morning someone had shared a tattoo they had gotten. It was of the mythological Atlas, kneeling with an arm half-buried in the cleft of one sagging butt cheek so that it appeared that he was cradling the drooping flesh on his titanic shoulders. The target of the tattoo was a woman in her late thirties and the replies and quote tweets were overwhelmingly positive. I was shocked to find not a single person disturbed that the tattooee had committed to having a flabby ass for the rest of her (or the tattoo’s) life. There is no dual-purpose to the indelible ink: if the woman were to eat clean and exercise the resulting taut flesh would render the “joke” ineffective. It is hard for me to not interpret this as a sign of the times.
It is moments like those that reinforce my decision to step away from active participation in social media. If I were still posting and replying I would have been the only dissenting voice in a crowd of actual hundreds. Instead, I get to sit with a pen and paper while my cat does her best to prevent me from crystallizing my thoughts on the matter:
Life is good. It will be even better when I stop dosing myself with the former friend’s stupidity.