Discomfiture Made Me Do It

The discomfiture we feel may be our most accurate human sensation; reminding us we are not quiteThe shame and discomfiture of my inactive fingers overtakes me; I must post SOMETHING on this blog or admit I am not a writer. It’s been more than a week since I posted an incoherent soul-search that attempted to discover the source of unreasonable fear and its attendant woes. Perhaps I needed a week to process what I’d written. Or maybe I needed time to process the fact that I’d written such embarrassing drivel. That’s history. I’m here to post something else. Exactly what that is remains to be seen, but I hope it’s not as numbing as the last attempt at writing.

First things first. I read this evening that a green, bioluminescent road marking material may soon become standard for striping roads in the Netherlands. The material absorbs light during the day and, at night, brilliantly illuminates the sides (at the moment) of roads, minimizing the need for street lighting. Following my acquisition of this insight, I learned that some countries use colored road markings other than the white and yellow we’re used to seeing in the USA. Some countries use red or blue markings to alert motorists to specific requirements. I could tell you what they are, but I’d have to go back and look it up. Instead, I recommend you take the time and expend the energy to do that. The expenditure of time and energy will make you a better person. Not that you’re not  a wonderful person already.

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Speaking of double negatives, how’s this for a sentence? “I am not unwilling to reject the fact that I do not dislike the use of double negatives.” If I heard the words spoken, I am not sure I’d not slap the speaker.

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A squirrel zipped and down a tree outside my window yesterday afternoon. The capacity for squirrel activity to make one’s mind wander far, far away from writing astonishes me. I believe the squirrel was trained to do what it is doing. How else could it be that a squirrel would, in full view of a man staring out the window, perform such distracting stunts? Perhaps I should have had some wine to cure my distraction. Or maybe I should start looking for a replacement squirrel to populate the forest outside my window, a squirrel not so immersed in the practice of distracting behavior.

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Nightfall solved the dilemma of the squirrel, so I did not have to replace it. The beast may remain in a state of frenetic tree climbing, but I couldn’t see it. Problem solved. Without wine, I might add. But now that you mention wine, I think I’ll be in the mood for a cabernet sauvignon/syrah blend several hours hence, at or near nightfall. Not that I’d know by taste alone whether I was drinking something composed of either grape. But I do drink the stuff. And I think I should stop. I enjoy it too much for it to be any good for me, especially with such frequency and in such volume. I think alcohol is an anesthetic that erases, for a time, memories we don’t even know torture us. Or perhaps it simply dulls pain we sense is there, yet do not understand its source. That’s my theory. Personal histories fraught with mistakes, embarrassments, bad decisions, broken promises, or moral failings. There are more, I’m sure. The man who cheats on his wife. The woman who married her husband for money and who regrets it. The child who stole money from his mother’s art collection to pay for drugs or cigarettes or weapons. The prostitute who remembers being an innocent little girl, right before slashing her wrists.

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Jeez, that turned macabre in a hurry! My mind takes me there sometimes and I simply don’t have the discipline to rein it in. I’m a believer in letting the mind wander wherever it wants to go, on the one hand, and taking pains to stunt negative thoughts on the other. Lately, I’ve been hearing quite a lot in my church (Am I actually saying that? I attend church? How is that? I’m an atheist, for God’s sake!) about letting people be who they are and loving them regardless. I’m trying. As someone involved in the organization says, “We’re on a journey toward becoming our better selves. We won’t reach that destination, but we’re obliged to take the trip.” I like that attitude. I try to be better. I try to be open-minded and non-judgmental. I do. But I have a hell of a time reconciling evangelical Christians with their support of—even their acceptance of—Trump. Don’t get me started!

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Yesterday afternoon, I attended for the third time the “Meatless Tuesday” luncheon group, wherein each of us prepares a vegetarian dish to share. Some of the people are vegan, some are vegetarian, some are omnivores. But on our Tuesday, we don’t serve “anything that has a face.”  I enjoyed some really excellent food and shared a dish I’d never made before: roast vegetable quinoa salad (cold). It was okay (I used gochujang paste; another version uses harissa paste.). One of the dishes offered was a splendid noodle dish with “meat balls” flavored with something that I’m sure included soy sauce. The “meat” was, in fact, textured vegetable protein but it looked and felt and even tasted like meat. I was impressed. I could and perhaps should become vegetarian. I would have an easy time becoming pescatarian, though I would miss my beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey, and occasional other prepared animal corpses.

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A few weeks ago, at the behest of a friend who lives far away in another state, I began calling her on Wednesday mornings to engage in conversations meant to stimulate her intellect. We decided we’d each watch a TED Talk and discuss it during our Wednesday morning conversations. Her husband had been terminally ill for quite some time and had been, for several months, essentially unable to communicate; he slept almost around the clock. She could rarely leave his side and said she felt she needed to engage in intellectual conversations with someone on a regular basis or risk “decaying” as she waited for her husband to die. Two weeks into our routine, he died. Last week, just three days after his death, we conducted our long-distance discussion. This week, she is visiting family in yet another state, but she asked that I call her at the appointed hour. I suspect she will decide she has better things to do than hear me rattle on about a TED Talk, which will be fine with me, inasmuch as I haven’t made time yet to select one. In a pinch, I could talk about something else, I suppose.

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Today’s weather forecast calls for rain. Lots of rain. Torrential rain. And the rain is expected to continue for a couple of days, followed by a two-day respite and then a week of more rain and much cooler temperatures. The high on April 1 (Sunday) is forecast to be forty-nine degrees. I’m glad I haven’t yet put the sweatshirts away. Gloom. Very cool weather. Wetness. What season is this, anyway?

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These sputters of nonsense have expunged the guilt from my formerly inactive fingers. I am now free to wallow in ennui without the vision of an empty screen, void of words, in my mind’s eye.

About John Swinburn

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