A New Appreciation

I spent part of the evening last night with my new actual girlfriend (who I feel like I’ve known and loved forever—more on that in a minute) and some other friends, listening to an extraordinarily talented young guitarist. It impressed me that someone can develop and nurture an incredibly strong attachment to an art form like guitar, knowing all the while that the odds are not in the person’s favor, vis-à-vis employment. Though the kid has recorded a few CDs, the likelihood that he’s ever going to make a living with music is slim.

NO! NO! NO! That sort of negative thinking has no place around here. This kid is destined to be recognized the world over as a virtuoso guitarist. Watch for the name Travis Bowman. He’s already been recognized for his talents, but I suspect the recognition soon will extend far beyond his appreciative peers.


Medical professionals and others have long had the tools to measure blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and heart rate. They have been able to detect and measure blood alcohol level and the amount of arsenic in the body. But, to my knowledge, they haven’t been able to develop a meaningful measure of the stress level experienced by a person. That seems to be an awful omission, given all the maladies, conditions, and byproducts we attribute to stress. I wonder how many infirmities and ailments are erroneously attributed to stress? Common sense (which sometimes is so at odds with reality that…) tells me some stress-related afflictions could be treated by treating the stress. For example, an ailment caused by stress-induced anxiety should respond well to anxiety drugs. But if the ailment does not always respond as expected; the correlation may be wrong, the adjustment might be insufficient, or there may be no correlation at all. Who knows?  Do I feel stress? Of course, I feel quite a lot of stress. How does stress feel? Hmmm, good question. Well, then how do you feel when you’re under stress? The possible symptoms are endless. Something, though, must be done to treat stress or to determine other causes of various ailments and act accordingly. I’m wandering here; I have things on my mind, but that’s no excuse for wandering.


In the introduction to this post, I mentioned my actual girlfriend. I remain stunned that something so powerful as our relationship can develop so quickly. And I am surprised at myself for being able to (or willing to) develop a relationship so soon after my wife’s death. Is five+ months too soon? Well, if I count the five+ months before she died, it has been closer to a year. What, exactly, is the appropriate length of time for mourning or for grief or for memories to make experiencing some moments so joyous, yet so tearful?

The right amount of time, in my opinion, is whatever time it takes. It could be five days or five years. Every individual is different. I miss my wife. I will grieve for her and the loss of her love until it is my time to die. But I believe a strong friendship that seemingly transformed overnight into love will help me cope with, though not discard, those emotions. And I said “seemingly” because the fabric of  of the relationship took its time, developing one thread at a time, before it was sewn into a garment. In our case, a months-long attraction and many months exchanging friendly and supportive text messages and emails formed the underpinning of our relationship. It may have caught fire with a spark, but the fuel for the flame was collected a little at a time over a period of…years, really.


With the excitement of this budding relationship, there also is a certain kind of peace I feel, a peace that draws me to think and remember and appreciate so many things. And, of course, somehow my little black anthology of quotations provides some insight.

Along the mountain road
Somehow it tugs at my heart
A Wild violet

~ Basho ~

And so there you go. An extremely brief assertion of the natural cycle of life and love.


If Suddenlink does as it says it will, a technician will arrive between 8 and 11 this morning to explore what’s wrong with my voicemail. It hasn’t worked in days and multiple telephone calls have had no impact. But maybe a technician can fix it. Based on looking at my phone’s display, it appears I have eleven messages. Yet when I try to retrieve them, I get a message saying I have none. Long story. I’ll stop. Please, Suddenlink rep, visit my home and fix my phone!


I just read that 13 people were injured in an early-morning shooting around the Sixth Street entertainment area in Austin, Texas.  There’s literally nothing we can do to stop this sort of thing, regardless of the circumstances that led up to it. Too damn many people have too damn many guns and we cannot “collect” them without risking civil war, thanks to gun fanatics whose worship of the Second Amendment at the expense of every tenet of morality and decency. So we reap what we sowed. Bullets, planted like seeds, are sprouting in places once deemed pockets of über-civility. Some days, I want to live in Denmark or Norway, but not in the present day. I would want to take a jaunt back to the 1990s, before seeds of populous rage were planted and grew into mindless self-inflicted stupidity.

There’s always another time, another place I’d rather be. And I often long to be another person. But we cannot go back to what we (I, anyway) often believe was a gentler, kinder, more compassionate time. And, so, we cope. We try to change minds or, at least, open them. If fresh breezes can flow through windows that once were nailed shut, then we have a chance. Not “us,” as in the people inhabiting our planet today. “Us,” as in the rest, the ones who will inherit the opportunities and the challenges we left them. And it’s not just the Second Amendment that merits a deeper look. It’s societal compassion and how it seems to be trained out of us, little by little, then in huge chunks.


My second cup of coffee is calling. But I’ll not post this just yet (it’s already past 8); I need to run it by my editor.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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4 Responses to A New Appreciation

  1. Robin, I love your mom’s story. Experiences and emotions that seem, to others, to represent absolute madness can be among the most delightful any of us can encounter. That reality is on my mind this morning. Thanks so much for sharing the experience; it helps me realize I’m not crazy! (At least not always.)

  2. Thank you, Warren. And I wish the same for you, sir!

  3. warrens1or2 says:

    It is Spring, and love is in the air. Wishing you happy days and nights my friend.

  4. robin andrea says:

    Reading about your new girlfriend reminded me of this: My parents had been married for 45 years when my father died in March 1992. They were each other’s soulmates and deeply loved partners of the heart. A few months after my father died, my mother met a lovely man. They instantly connected and started dating. He was 82 years old; my mom was 67! They fell in love and got married within six months of when they met. Yes, it blew our minds (my sibs and I were so surprised by all of it!). They stayed together until Sam’s death in 2005. those 13 years really meant so much to my mom and us. He was a lovely good man.
    Love happens sometimes when you least expect it.

Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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