Eight: Apoptosis

In the film CHILDREN OF MEN (I don't recall whether or not it's in the book), there's a scene where Julianne Moore's character taunts the endlessly-traumatized Clive Owen about his recent close call with a café explosion: Do you hear that ringing in your ears? That's the sound of those cells dying, so enjoy it while it lasts. You'll never be able to hear that frequency again [1].

Factually dubious, of course, but the notion stuck with me. When something inside of us dies, how does it say farewell?

I've long experienced a sensation while I'm working on a problem. My strongest early memory of it (though I am certain it was around before then) was always associated with my Java programming class as a first-year Computer Science major. When the problem was traceable and I could roughly see the pathway of code that would take me to a solution, but I started to have some choices and responsibility, I'd get a tingling sensation in my head, over my ears, and on the backs of my hands, and I'd begin feeling what I now recognize as anxiety. When my technical skills were not quite where I needed them to be, but I could logically recognize that working through the problem would help build those skills, I would lock up in a panic, occasionally fixated on the blinking cursor of my IDE for hours. Then I'd cheat my way through the assignment and boot up Unreal Tournament 2k3 and get kicked out of school and come back a year later as an English major.

This sensation recurs, to a lesser extent, when I work on music and design projects that are slightly more complex than muscle-memorable. I've learned how to push through it for work-related writing and scholarship, but the anticipation of it leads to a lot of avoidance and procrastination. You won't find me blogging for my library any time soon because I know its waiting there for me, and you absolutely will not find me coding a solution to a practical problem.

Lately, I've felt it, the contraction of the scalp, the sweat, the heart rate jump, the freeze, when I start seriously thinking about taking on one of my intentions [2]. It could be the early evening after work. I could be sitting on the couch, passively taking in a rerun or mobile game, and I get the urge to motivation—hey, you could be doing something with this time—immediately followed by fear and inaction.

It's a ringing in my ears that ripples across my whole body, and I have to wonder, what is it that is dying? Motivation? Creation? When the anxious pull toward manifestation grips me, is that the sign that it is leaving? I could sit deeper in the couch, get real cozy. I could smile wide. That part of me could be done, and I'll never have it again. The next time I feel the pull, another Hz of action, dead.

[1] Ringing in your Ears (Children of Men 2006) @ YouTube
[2] Intent @ ennui.institute