For nearly everyone, aging involes making a particular sort of deal with the devil.
You are granted a comfortable, increasingly doubt-free existence for the duration of your natural life.
In exchange, you agree to almost immediately surrender your voice. You also agree that toward the end of your natural life, you will be erased from all of history—from the memories of strangers, the memories of friends, the memories of family, and even—in your final years—your own memory. At the moment of death, your negation becomes complete, and it is as if you never existed in the first place.
The meaning of the deal is precisely that there will be, in the final analysis, no meaning. It is an analgesic, perhaps a narcotic.
— § —
Life is hard and the deal is seductive.
It is difficult for most to resist.
Few manage it for long.
Fewer manage to avoid making the deal altogether.
The numbers are vanishingly small.
— § —
For some time now, I have been in negotiation with the devil. It’s not so much that he drives a hard bargain as that he drives his bargain hard.
I am struggling to stay afloat, to avoid intoxication, to keep my wits about me.
At times, I think that I am losing, that I have very nearly taken the deal, if it is not already too late.
At other times, I feel a resurgence of determination, will, and fortitude. I am sure that I will outthink him.
— § —
Tonight, in a rare moment of clarity, I can see that neogiations are ongoing, but his tactics are not entirely fair; he is also in possession of manifold forms of persuasion that I simply do not yet have.
I hope to acquire them yet—and I continue to race, where I am given the opening and retain clarity, to do so.
— § —
All of this, however, leaves the question: Can the devil be outsmarted? Cheated? Is it possible to con him?
For the sake of my voice, my history, and myself, there is nothing for it but to try.
I am unsure about the costs of failure. About this, however, I’m actually quite happy.
Should I come to understand them, it will be too late; the deal will have been made and the trajectory of my existence set in stone—or in vapor, as the case may be.