Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Microstory 1858: God’s Eye View

I wasn’t paying attention when I was diagnosed with a terminal disease. That’s really all I caught when the doctor was trying to explain it to me. I wasn’t in shock, or anything, I just didn’t care. I’m going to die in prison, and that’s true whether it happens tomorrow, or ten years from now. If you had asked me yesterday what went wrong with my life, I would have blamed it on the world. I have a mental list of people who have wronged me throughout the years, and to be sure, some of those people deserve to be on it. Maybe even all of them, to some degree, but there’s one name I forgot to include, and it actually ought to be at the top. Me. I should have taken responsibility for my own actions. I should be on it both for the things that I did, and also because I’ve lived in denial of my culpability. Let me explain where this sudden realization is coming from. Government scientists have developed a drug that they hope will help restore the memories and general faculties of people with age-related diseases that cause those kinds of problems. I have no such disease, but they needed a control group, so I’m part of that. As an incarcerated terminal patient, I was the perfect candidate. I didn’t even wait to hear the whole pitch before agreeing to sign the documents. If the experimental medicine they gave me resulted in my death, then as I explained before, it didn’t really matter. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I sat down. I suppose I figured I would get a flood of memories that I had either suppressed, or had just forgotten, because they weren’t very important. If it should work on dementia patients, why wouldn’t it work on me too? That’s not what happened, though. As I’ve said, my memories were fine; probably about as intact as any normal person’s. I didn’t remember anything special, but I got some new perspective.

I was a piece of shit. I treated strangers poorly, and my friends even worse. I alienated everyone who ever cared about me, and I didn’t even realize it. Because they didn’t truly ever leave; our relationships just never totally recovered. I had some pretty crazy ideas about the world too. I made political and economical claims that—now that I think about it—didn’t make any sense. The truth is that I was super uneducated, and to no one’s fault but my own. I went to class, and I took the tests, but I didn’t really care about the material, I didn’t retain it, and I was entirely incapable of drawing reasonable conclusions for new problems. I just didn’t understand a damn thing, but I thought I was so smart. Do you remember saying something stupid when you were a kid, like how the older boys who stole your lunch money would be sorry when you grew up, and were older than them? Or maybe you lied to everyone about climbing up the side of a building. This is what it feels like to look back at my past. I feel like a God, my hindsight is so much better than 20/20 right now. I was so wrong about everything, and I’m incredibly embarrassed of myself. It’s unfair, having this perspective so late in life. I don’t have any time to go back and correct my mistakes. Plus I’m still stuck in here. I won’t go over every epiphany I had while I was on this drug, but I’ll say that the old me wouldn’t care about it. I’m smiling, because even if it doesn’t technically do what it’s meant to, it should still be able to help people. I just need to figure out how to convey this data to the researchers. I’m about to die, I know this much. I don’t think that should stop their research, and I’m worried they will if I don’t manage to explain the results to them before I fade away. I have to get back to the real world. I have to wake up befo—

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