And Then Where Would I Be?

Since I wrote yesterday’s public blog post, an absurdist unfinished fantasy, I’ve written five more pieces. Most of those drafts, if not all, will never see the light of day on this blog. They may find their way into longer stories or elements of expansive essays or components of deeper contemplation.  But they probably won’t end up here. That’s the fate of much of my writing; it springs into being, only to be shoved into files that tend to be forgotten. And that’s only appropriate. Given the volume of my written words, the vast majority is likely to be unusable swill; it’s just a statistical statement as close to fact as statistics can get. Why some of my swill slips around the gates and onto the blog is a question for which I have no answer. It just happens, like a dog slips through a door, though it’s opened for only a split second.

That’s how my writing strikes me sometimes. It’s an adventurous dog with an urge to explore beyond its boundaries, pulling at its leash and, occasionally, breaking free and sprinting down the street. It’s not sure what it is looking for; maybe temporary freedom, maybe the chance to see what the real world is like. The world outside that smells so new and fresh and exotic. I may write a story one day in which my writing takes on the persona of a six-month-old boxer puppy. Or maybe an elderly mixed-breed. They would see the world through different eyes; their different experiences would color their perceptions of what their lives mean. Perhaps a series of stories, telling the same tale through different dogs’ eyes: a boxer puppy, an aging mixed-breed, a middle-aged chihuahua, a bulldog unchained to an age descriptor.

One’s age, whether one happens to be human or dog, is too often used by others to categorize. Young means inexperienced and energetic and willing to take absurd risks. Old means lethargic and risk-averse and drenched in the wisdom of experience. Middle-aged is a period of questioning and uncertainty. I can say from experience, though, that the challenges of middle age last into old age; maybe beyond. In reality, though, our tendency to judge and categorize on the basis of age arises from intellectual flaws. We make assumptions that, if we gave serious thought to them, we would not make. Our assessments of actual people (and pets) follow generalized abstractions that simply don’t apply, in practice, to individuals. We know this. But we continue to judge and assess and categorize anyway. Because we’re lazy, I suppose. Or we’re heartless bastards who don’t care what is real; it’s what our biases tell us that matters, by God! Who knows? I certainly don’t.

My mind this morning should not be drifting haphazardly along in a stream of consciousness, smashing into both sides of the channel and spilling chunks of the banks into the stream. Instead, I should focus on writing a eulogy for a friend’s remembrance. I was asked to deliver the eulogy during next Sunday’s service, which is dedicated to the memories of those members of the congregation who died during the past year. Ach, I will do it. But not yet. Not until I am ready. And then it will flow. I am confident of that. Who am I to second-guess myself as to what should occupy my mind this morning? An interloper. My other personality needs to leave this one alone. Or vice versa.

Back to my five drafts. I have assigned titles to them, which are: Disciplined Ascetic, Gin with a Miscellany Chaser, Breakfast Book, Incoherent Music by Another Name, and Shrapnel. Shrapnel is the only piece of pure fiction, though Incoherent contains a rather long set of song lyrics that one would either consider fiction or evidence of insanity. My mind sometimes works faster than my fingers (it should always work faster than my fingers, but it’s a bit slow), so I don’t capture everything I think about. That’s either good or bad, depending on perspective.

Our plans for later this week, a visit with friends in Fort Smith and a trek to Crystal Bridges for a dose of culture have been put on hold. The female component of our friends came down with a cold, making it inadvisable for us to visit and her to spread her germs in public places. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen them, I think, so it’s well past time. We’ll figure it out, eventually. Hell, we could meet for lunch once a week halfway between our homes. Maybe I’ll suggest it when she’s better. I’d like much more frequent visits. We’ll see what we’ll see.

I still have an appointment with my oncologist on Thursday morning. I expect her to say there’s nothing new to report. Maybe she’ll schedule another CT scan or an MRI (I’m willing to try an MRI again; my back/neck may be in a more tolerable mood). I suspect so; that’s really the only tool they have to determine whether there’s anything “there” that merits more invasive exploration. I do look forward to finally getting the word that I am “cancer free.” Until I’ve been “free of evidence of cancer” for five years, they won’t say I’m “cancer free.” Another four years to go, assuming all goes well.

Most people would choose to keep private the kind of stuff I put on my blog. I don’t. I don’t know why I don’t. I do have plenty of “journal” entries that I keep private and that will never be viewed by another human being. Those entries must be painful or embarrassing or damaging or…something. I’ve got to stop here. I could go on until the Internet runs out of space to store my words. And then where would I be?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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