Author Archives: John Swinburn

About John Swinburn

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

Fictional Writing

Wherein the writer attempts, unsuccessfully, to return to writing fiction vignettes, producing swill and incoherent drivel instead. Coleman Daniel Sprague was the first person convicted under the new thought-crime statutes. The charges against him were extensive. The first count with … Continue reading

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Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Several weeks ago, I assured someone I would be happy to take him to doctor visits and other medical appointments when he needed me to do it. Last evening, I received an email from him, asking me to help him … Continue reading

Posted in Compassion, Empathy | Leave a comment

The Gravity of Justice

The way I got there is too convoluted to tell. Suffice it to say I made my way to a blog post that described the writer’s journey of being selected as a juror and then, just as the trial was … Continue reading

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That Miserable Thought

I euthanized that miserable thought, that idea that reeked of the stench of rancid self-indulgence. I ran a spear through its heart and I severed its head. After a day, I threw the rotting corpse of that thought into a … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | 2 Comments


Spontaneity matters to me. Spontaneity is real. It mines desires and motivations and wishes from the substance of day-to-day life and turns that raw ore into experience. Friends who can adapt to spontaneity and who become part of it are … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | 1 Comment

Tells Stories and Believes Them

About four years ago, I wrote a very brief post that began, “Tells stories and believes them.” The quote was my memory (which I believe is correct) of a statement in a psychological inventory’s assessment of my personality. I didn’t … Continue reading

Posted in Frustration, Materialism, Philosophy | Leave a comment

Senses and Sensibilities Sans Sanity

I wrote two other posts this morning before I got to this one. And I wrote three others last night before I saved them, expecting to return to them this morning and fix them. Instead, I discarded last night’s writing. … Continue reading

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Bowing to the Trees

There was a chill in the air this morning, with the temperature hovering around fifty degrees. A thin overcast and a brisk wind made it feel cooler. Billowing flurries of orange and brown and yellow leaves fell from trees in … Continue reading

Posted in Imagination | 1 Comment

It Usually Turns Out Fine

Last night, after writing my post subsequent to visiting with the surgeon, I did additional research on Stage IIB lung cancer survival without treatment. The average, I found, was seven months from diagnosis to death. That’s considerably less than I … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 4 Comments

Staging My Attitude

The only real question now is: when? Will I go forward as we decided this afternoon, with surgery next Wednesday, November 14? Or will I wait a bit? After learning of the preliminary staging assessment (Stage IIB),  the potential dangers … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 3 Comments

On with the Day

Late yesterday afternoon, I got a message from the Little Rock surgeon to whom my oncologist referred me. I have an appointment late this afternoon. Maybe I’ll know more then. I have plenty of questions for the surgeon. How am … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I May Have Suffered from Autopathagnosiasis

One often hears about people who, after reading or hearing about symptoms of potentially fatal diseases, believe they exhibit such symptoms. One term for such people is hypochondriacs. But what about people who dismiss the suggestion that their diagnoses may … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 3 Comments

Promises Promises

Over the years I’ve repeatedly made promises to myself that I’ve broken. The earliest one I remember was the promise I would stop smoking. I first made that promise when I was in my early twenties. It took me thirty … Continue reading

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Questions for the Oncologist

I have a lot of questions for my oncologist during my appointment tomorrow morning. I’ve written a list: Please verify the details of my cancer as I understand them: 6 cm tumor in my right lower lobe, right? the biopsy … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 2 Comments

Thanksgiving Planning

I was daydreaming for a while this morning, thinking about what we might do for Thanksgiving this year. What kind of non-traditional but celebratory dinner might we prepare? But then it occurred to me that I might learn during tomorrow’s … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Warning: You Will Be Bored if You Read This

My attempt to go back to sleep after I returned to bed shortly after 3:30 was an abject failure. I did close my eyes and attempt to empty my mind of clutter. Instead, I closed my eyes and filled my … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Up in the Middle of the Night

It’s just after 3:00 a.m. and I can’t bring myself to write what’s on my mind because I’m not quite sure I know. I woke from a bizarre, troubling nightmare. Rather than attempt to go back to sleep, I got … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | Leave a comment

A Nice Lunch and a Confirmation of Lung Cancer

My wife and I drove to Little Rock today with some friends today—Paul and his sister, Rose—for lunch at a place Paul mentioned to us last time we were together. It’s called Sauce(d), a new wood-fired pizza restaurant whose interior … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 2 Comments

Maggie’s Birthday Story as Told by the Son Barack Obama Didn’t Know He Had

Around two months ago, a post I wrote focused almost exclusively on a woman I dated once while I was a young, inexperienced kid. I have only a slightly greater reason to write about her today than I did two … Continue reading

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Autumnal Experience

An attribute of autumn I once found delightful but now find depressing and burdensome is taking place as I write this. Trees are losing leaves as if the trees were rejecting poisonous attackers, flinging them to the ground in an … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

As If Never Written

I wrote recently of the odd turn in my life of late in which my tendency toward self-diagnosed ADHD transformed into laser-focused fixation. Though not resolved, I’m able these days to direct my attention outside myself and to exclude cancer … Continue reading

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Biopsy Biopsy, What Do You Show?

My moderate fear about the pain of the biopsy procedure was unfounded. Except for the insertion of the IV line. The nurse who did it, Andrew, was abysmal at finding a vein. His multiple attempts were absolutely excruciating. I’m glad … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 1 Comment


Now I’m getting angry. Last Friday, I thought I had finally broken through the clogged pipeline of medical bureaucracy and gotten the biopsy scheduled. It was set for Tuesday, October 30. Tomorrow morning, early. On Friday, I was told to … Continue reading

Posted in Cancer, Health | 1 Comment

Unfocused, on Steroids

My thoughts this morning seemed to come out of nowhere. As far as I know, no dream prompted my mind to wander over there. But there it went, off into an abandoned lighthouse on a tiny coastal island inaccessible except … Continue reading

Posted in Intermittent Journaliing | Leave a comment

Cultural Adjustments

Americans tend to overestimate their culture’s superiority and to underestimate the value of other cultures. I think two processes are going on that perpetuate these attitudes. The overestimation of American culture is, I believe, trained into us. We are told … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment