Exhuming Memories

This morning, my creativity is at a low ebb. Instead of attempting to write something that would surely be hollow and dark, I’ll remember mornings when I felt more energy and more passion than I do at this moment by replaying snippets from past posts.

I have written so many posts that generated absolutely no response, mostly because they are rarely read. I wish some of them, though, would have triggered conversations about the thoughts that gave birth to them. I’m not in the mood to talk about them this morning, though. Reading the posts from which I extracted these snippets made me inexplicably sad, not necessarily because of their content, but because of what I was thinking when I wrote them.

  • Realistically, though, we effectively have only two parties, Democratic and Republican, neither of which is stocked with sufficient intellectual muscle to set aside its stupid partisan mantra for long enough to let reality seep into its world-view.
  • If the world’s population is allowed to grow unchecked, there will come a time when the planet cannot sustain those who inhabit it. Simple extrapolations of population growth, coupled with measured analyses of the rate of growth in food productivity, will show that there is a point at which productivity will fall below minimum demand. Famine and the attendant response to it are among the results one would expect.
  • Soon, my wife will wake up and will come into the kitchen, expecting me to hand her a glass of tomato juice and finish preparing our breakfast…I appreciate that expectation.  I relish it.  I enjoy meeting it. Life is good now.  Right at this moment, I do not need anything else.  Nothing else at all.
  • Inexplicable shadows mill about in the pre-dawn darkness, shadows that follow the early-morning walker, occasionally darting in front of him, then slipping quickly from view. Street lamps and the headlights of passing cars and the weak light of a waning moon and a still-distant sunrise give them sustenance.
  • Regret arises as readily from actions not taken as from mistakes made. The life unlived, due to efforts unmade, takes as much of a toll on one’s psyche as choosing the path of least resistance with a vengeance. Regret becomes a torment with no remedy if we permit ourselves to dwell on opportunities not taken, decisions not made, and risks avoided. The challenge is to forgive ourselves for being who we are. The absolution is more difficult than the punishment.
  • Let me suggest to you that, one day when no one else is around, you take the process of cooking in a slightly different direction. My suggestion is that you do this when you are preparing to make a shrimp dish, but you can do it with almost any ingredient that once moved of its own volition. I’ll assume you’re using shrimp.

    If the shrimp is frozen, thaw it. If it is headless, imagine it with a head. If it lacks a shell imagine it with its carapace intact. Try to put yourself in the shrimp’s place; not as it is now, but as it was before it was harvested as food. Consider the scope of the world in which that shrimp lived. Think of the salt water environment in which it lived. Understand that, very probably, the shrimp was not sentient in the same sense that you and I are, but that it was aware of its surroundings. Look around at the flora and fauna on and near the sea floor. Pay attention to the sea grasses dancing in the currents; follow their gyrations in response to moving water and to the turbulence caused by tails and fins as they drift by.

    Snap to the present. Look at the carcass before you. Consider that it once was a tiny, almost microscopic creature, then its mother gave birth to it, and then it matured in a protected environment until it was able to make its way in its watery world. That dead shrimp you are about to process into food spent its entire short life oblivious to your hunger. It was oblivious to your very existence. Suddenly, though, it was harvested. And here it is before you. It has no memories of sea grasses swishing in the undersea breezes. It has no recollection of its search for food. This corpse no longer feels pain nor hunger nor fear nor whatever else shrimp experience.

    You wonder why that brief life, lived in a place you cannot hope to understand, came to an abrupt end. You look down at that shrimp before you and you wish you could express in a way it could understand how much you appreciate and admire what it has done and will do for you. You cannot bring yourself to look in the mirror, for there will be eyes looking back at you, questioning what you are thinking. You dare not say.

About John Swinburn

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