Recently I had an appointment with Dr. Marx, my medicine man. We only had one matter to discuss, because I’m not interested in small talk about golf and he doesn’t seem to be big on Proust or dinosaurs or any of the important stuff in life.
The subject is my one medication. It doesn’t keep me alive by itself, but is part of the program of maintaining all the mysterious and incalculably complex systems that a million years’ of evolution have set ticking away in our bodies. There’s also the balanced diet, exercise, avoiding Fox News — all the typical recommendations for better physical and mental health.
Thanks to diet and exercise and all that, I’ve managed to lower my dosage of the prescription steadily to an extremely small one. I was hoping that on that visit he’d clear me, reduce the dose to zero and I’d be free of the daily pill (Good name for a medical publication, The Daily Pill. Probably some school of pharmacy already has one).
The Doc had good news. All my tests indicated all the right things and none of the wrong ones. He told me I was ready to move to a lower prescription dosage.
“Lower?” I asked. “Unless you’re Thomas Pynchon or some graduate student in theoretical math, there’s nothing below zero. That’s the end of the scale for those of us living in extended space and time. Or,” it occurred to me, “You’re Dr. Strange and you inhabit some seventh dimension beyond the zero where the Dread Dormammu dwells.”
Not a smile, even one of weary tolerance. He didn’t get it. Not enough doctors wasted their youth reading comic books, especially ones drawn by Steve Ditko.
“Zenmycin,” he said.
“Okay. What’s that?”
“You told me you meditate, didn’t you?”
“Yes, not always every day, but ….”
“This will be a useful adjunct to your practice, then. Zenmycin is, in essence, the idea of a pill. You hold it in your hand, concentrate, imagine yourself taking it, and repeat that each day. A variety of Zen construct.”
“Once a day, with water. After eating is recommended.”
“Um, do I really need a physical object in order to visualize a mental activity?”
“That’s what all the literature recommends.”
“There are studies? How long do I take it before we evaluate the results?”
“That’s why I’m glad you’re familiar with meditation. Do you meditate expecting that at some point you’ll experience enlightenment, escape the Wheel of Dharma and enter Nirvana?”
“Of course not. You don’t meditate with any goal in mind. To do so would represent the antithesis of a correct Zen mindset.”
“Wait. Are you implying that every day for the rest of my life I open a bottle, take out a a pill that has no discernable medicinal properties, hold it in my hand, imagine swallowing it and … and just do that forever?”
“Focus is the key. As you know from your meditation.”
“So, I continue this ‘focus’ for the rest of my days? There’s no point at which I’m simply cured and pill-free?”
“Blaknissan, do you meditate with the expectation that you’ll someday attain perfect awareness and be able to cease meditating?”
“Not in this life. Do I continue taking Zenmycin when I transition to whatever plane of existence follows this one? Are there guidelines for that?”
“As you can imagine, medical science can only take us so far ….”
I walked out of the office into a bright California day, new prescription in hand. At least, I thought, this one should be a lot cheaper than pills that actually have medicine in them, and I only need one.
I took it to the drug store. The pharmacist gave me an odd look when he read it.
“I’ve never actually known anyone who made it this far. Congratulations.”
At the checkout counter, my one Zenmycin capsule cost a thousand dollars, although insurance covered some of it.
© Brad Nixon 2016