Monthly Archives: July 2014

119: Consenescas

(Latin) Verb – 1. second-person singular present active subjunctive of cōnsenēscō

Today’s word took no fudging, it fell in place all by itself. (“I become weak, infirm or powerless; waste away, decay, fade.”)

I asked Queenie casually, “a death sentence is handed down to you, but you are given twenty-four hours’ grace to do what you want. What do you do?”

Her answer was hilarious but not entirely unexpected. I won’t set it down here. She couldn’t distract me entirely, though; I took to pondering my own question with undue seriousness. I have only twenty-four precious hours before my life is snuffed out and that which I call “I” disappears for eternity. I’m a little over twenty years old (about 20.13 years old). Twenty-four hours to live means that I am running headlong into a brick wall millimeters from my nose. My race is 99.99% ((1-(1/(20.13*365)))*100%) run. Few things, expressed as rates, reach such percentages. You can toss around astronomical figures – for example, the mass ratio between the sun and the earth – but these are not personal. To say that your life is 99.99% over is distressing, to say the least.

I thought carefully about what I would do with my twenty-four hours. I submit my results below.

0 hours expended – 24 hours remain

I buy some energy drinks. I’ve never been into things like Monster and Red Bull, but I’ll need them now for the day-long blitz ahead that I take by storm. Less than 1% of my life is left to me. Every second now matters. There is no time to be even slightly sleepy. A quick trip to Safeway on the way home should do it. I might not even count this for time. So I’ll say this task takes zero hours.

I queue up a playlist of my best-loved music to play in the background while I make use of my final hours. The entire discography of Rafal Blechacz will see one final play (save his performance at the Hamamatsu Piano Competition) as will other select pieces of music. This task should also take relatively zero hours – that is, it folds into the others.

I meet my treasured friends one last time and say my last words to them. I address them first as a group, then individually. Let me be arrogant and say this task will take a whole two hours.

2 hours expended – 22 hours remain

I seat myself at my laptop and begin typing farewell letters to everyone I care about. There will be one for every part of the family (one each for members of my immediate family) and one for each of my friends; length varies by how much I can type in the spur of the moment. This task is done in private so that I may freely and completely express the last of my emotions, probably behind a locked door. This task will be lengthy, especially for those whom I love most. I will estimate this task to take about five hours.

7 hours expended – 17 hours remain

Sealing the last of the letters, I emerge from my room and break the news to my family. I ask that I be given some time to myself to wrap up some things very quickly. I play some piano – pieces old and forgotten as well as new and unexplored, with a smattering of those with which I am well-acquainted. I do not think I could bear to hear myself play for longer than an hour.

8 hours expended – 16 hours remain

I settle down and read my books one last time. Any manga I haven’t read in full, I skim through now. Any Thomas the Tank Engine story I forgot, I reprise. Any fantastical children’s book I ever enjoyed, I will enjoy again at top speed. This should take two hours.

10 hours expended – 14 hours remain

I wrap up affairs of the digital realm. I do what I can to close active accounts, entrusting my family with my passwords to do the rest. I enjoy bits from reddit and Wikipedia and YouTube. I can’t resist one last peek at my modest collection of dirty things. In total (and not just the dirty things) I should expect to take an hour.

11 hours expended – 13 hours remain

I sit down with my family and watch My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. The combined running time of these is one-and-a-half hours, so we’ll say this takes two hours.

13 hours expended – 11 hours remain

I enjoy my final meal with my family. I hope to cradle the memory of Mom’s cooking to my grave. Maybe Dad will have made something nice, too, like a modest apple pie or a full-on cake. I make orange juice – lots of it – for everyone to drink. We talk and talk and talk as the night goes on. Dinner ceases to be the main attraction as we plumb the conversation deeper and deeper. A terror creeps over me as I realize just how little of my life remains. Staving off this useless fear, I gladly expend the rest of my time to converse with my family.

24 hours expended – 0 hours remain

At last, my time comes. I leave my letters in the care of my family and bid them all good-bye. I beg them not to watch me go.

If I really had to pick a time to lose my composure, it would be out of their sight, wherever that may be. Nor would I want to see them in my final moment.

I know the situation is only hypothetical, but writing all this has left me very emotional. I am still unable to fathom the enormity – the closeness and insignificance, but the enormity of death. I suddenly find myself out of touch with the deathly music in my library. Liszt’s Totentanz, Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead, Mozart’s Requiem, Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Taneyev’s John of Damascus … all of this music requires BIG orchestral force. None of them convey the close, personal nature of death. It feels almost hypocritical for me to feel any emotion while listening to these, not even a defined sense of distant dread.

It is selfish of me to write all this like some ridiculously self-persecuted character in a bad Shakespearean parody. But I perversely see some introspective value in them, and so I will set them down for the record.