December 29, 2019

I’ve decided to post some of my unposted items from months gone by. Sometimes, reading my words from times gone by helps me understand how I think; if that’s what it is. I will use my writing time today to explore how I would approach healing society as we attempt to recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic. We should not attempt to “return to normal.” We should construct a new, and better, civilization.

December 29, 2019

Ach, after listening to Story Corps, I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Yesterday’s story included a conversation between Asma Jama, a native Swahili speaker born in Somalia but now a  U.S. citizen, and Dawn Sahr, the sister of Jodie Burchard-Risch. Burchard-Risch hit Jama in the face with a beer mug because Jama was speaking Swahili in an Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Sahr befriended Jama, taking a stand against her sister and other members of her family. Jama, who spoke at Burchard-Rissch’s sentencing, said she forgave the woman who hit her. Forgiveness. It’s the only way one can achieve peace in the face of a real or perceived wrong. That sounds like religion speaking; it’s not religion, it’s humanity. It’s a matter of offering one’s own pain, caused by someone else, to the person who caused the pain; that person can then do with it what they will, but the pain will no longer control the victim. Ach, again.

***

I’ve missed closeness all my life. I still do. Emotional intimacy. It is the fuel for happiness. Absent that fuel, happiness dissipates in the wind, replaced by vacancy or anger or fear or some combination thereof.

***

The Universe spins time like an impeccable spider web. Time, blinding in its splendid and beautiful mathematical precision, cannot be improved nor can it be erased. Time is ever-present yet never contemporaneous. It is gone before it can be measured. Yet it remains, teasing us to try to capture it, if only for an instant.

It does one no good to realize that time sprints through the heavens at twice the speed of light, though; recognition does not correspond with control, which is what I’ve been after all along. Knowing time’s propensity for taking place even before it happens affords one no special capabilities. Time moves too fast to capture its leavings. And there are plenty of leavings. The residue of time is cast in alabaster statues, placed haphazardly in forgotten graveyards as monuments to unnecessary loss and irrevocable heartache.

The speed with which the year is spiraling toward its completion is stunning. Days go by between the heartbeats of a hummingbird. I hardly have an opportunity to acknowledge Sunday before Friday stands before me, edging toward Saturday and chiding me for being slow to recognize the obvious: Time has been mainlining methamphetamine cocktails while riding a bullet train through the fuselage of a supersonic jet.

I realize I am rambling. I realize my words only make sense if the reader (and the writer) accepts the impossibility of understanding the true nature of time. Even then, my words are woven into a fabric cobbled from strips of broken threads and a breath of futile hope.

***

Over lunch today, as I listened to others engage in conversation, I realized my wife and I were unnoticed observers. The people with whom we had lunch are nice enough, but they wouldn’t have noticed our absence if we had simply disappeared, just as they didn’t notice our presence. People (and I include myself in that classification) sometimes don’t take the time to embrace others outside their normal spheres. In the case of today’s neglect, I wonder whether it because we just are not interesting or that they just are not interested? I felt, today, like I should just slink off, away from these people who love their cliques, and explore another world. A world in which my wife and I matter.

***

 

 

About John Swinburn

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