“Diminished Capacity” by Carl Rigoli

The title of my essay is the name of a musical composition that a great musician and friend, John, wrote for one of my recent CDs, New Passages. His composition was difficult to play, but the recording was a magnificent musical gem consisting of great ensemble playing and creative jazz solos. I had an inclination to what John’s composition was implying, but it took me a while to understand the deeper meaning.

Composers write music that may have layers of subliminal meanings; sometimes, the listener needs additional time to figure it out.

I have been blessed with excellent hearing most of my life, but my hearing has diminished for the past several years, which is somewhat alarming. I find myself saying, “What did you say? Can you say it again?” My wife told me not to talk to her from another room. I asked if she would come closer and face me when conversing so, I won’t keep mumbling, “eh, what, “etc.

I also think I understand what someone says from another room, and my interpretation is to make the person speaking laugh. My wife will tell me she will be in the backyard trimming the flowers. My interpretation of what I heard was that she was going to the bank to trim their towers. When my wife understood what I said, she responded by laughing hysterically. Is that a sign of diminished capacity?

Is my memory also slipping when there is something important to say, but I get distracted trying to remember someone’s name or a special place? Is that a senior moment? Possibly, but it is still confusing while my brain is trying to figure it out. Sometimes it takes seconds, minutes, hours, or days to remember something, and it feels like being on a TV quiz show. There are times when I am conversing with someone, and all of a sudden, I remember the answer to a previous dilemma. Of course, the memory was totally irrelevant to the present discussion. Is that diminished capacity?

There are times I disagree with my very aggressive car GPS. It instructs me to go to an unfamiliar street, follow it to another road I never heard of, then make a right turn and go three miles. Announcing that my destination is on the left. I wonder why this crazy GPS is taking me to a place I have visited many times. Why did I put in the request in the first place? In my mind, I visualize using a hammer to smash the GPS to pieces to make it stop. Now I am arguing with my Pathfinder! I decided to call it my D.C. (diminished capacity) GPS. I forgot to mention a very important obstacle: my wife follows her cell phone GPS, along with everything going on simultaneously, and it sounds like a nut house as we drive to our destination.

Fortunately, when it comes to music, my hearing has not diminished, and it comes in loud and clear. The melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and composition, plus playing my instruments, are still working, and it has a wonderful and calming effect on me. I have no problems remembering the music I know. However, sometimes it takes a while to remember the song titles until I sing the tune a few times. Very little diminished capacity.

I wonder, am I the only one experiencing diminished capacity at my age?