Good Intentions

How would we respond if we discovered that someone we find extremely attractive, but who obviously is “unavailable,” finds us equally as irresistible? The question becomes more than an academic exercise in a context in which the state of “availability” changes. This, of course, may not apply when one is in a committed or a permanent relationship. But even then, it can apply; though the situation becomes more complex, “stickier,” and more dangerous and difficult. Most of the time, I think, such dangerous situations take place only in the mind. But when the distinction between fantasy and reality begins to dissolve, I suspect chaos and confusion can lead us into perilous territory. But perhaps we are immune to such chaos and confusion and, indeed, to romantic or physical attractions if we are steadfastly committed to avoiding such perils. That’s the stuff of novels. Or short stories. Or screen plays. It’s almost formulaic. And “almost” may be giving it too much flexibility.

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Betrayal. The word has several definitions, each of which suggests deep and almost impossibly painful experience. The first definition is something this like: “an act of disappointing a person’s trust, hopes, or expectations.” Another one can be almost equally devastating: “the act of revealing information in violation of confidence.” In both cases, the act of betrayal destroys trust and can utterly annihilate relationships. Betrayal can end or irrevocably damage a romantic relationship or a friendship. The potential damage it can do to any relationship is enough to warrant steering clear of anything that could cause the parties to a relationship to question the relationship’s strength or legitimacy. This comes to mind as I consider jokes I may have told or implicit suggestions I may have made, in poor taste, that may have gotten a little too close to treading on the sacred soil of unwavering commitment. Commitment. That’s another component of relationships that can break into a million pieces, consumed in the explosive destruction of trust in the face of betrayal. But people take risks every day that can destroy it all. Humans are crazy and stupid or, at the very least, unthinking.

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Ready access to money can bend reality, causing the “wealthy” (or relatively well-off) to forget what poverty feels like. The ability to buy products or services that improves one’s conditions, even modestly, can make us lazy and forgetful. I think a mandatory period of three months’ penniless homelessness should be imposed on every citizen. We would learn to treasure the precious things we take for granted. We would internalize compassion in a way that is almost impossible when one’s experiences have almost always been positive; when one’s life is one of almost unending largesse.

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This morning’s cool, comfortable temperatures (presently, 68°F) belie the fact that it’s mid-summer. Only the high humidity (86%) and the sounds of tree frogs and crickets offer evidence of summertime in Arkansas. When I walked out onto the covered and screened porch and, then, to the open air of the deck, I was grateful for a reprieve from the South’s normally sweltering temperatures. On a “normal” morning in late July in central Arkansas, the lowest pre-dawn temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. Combined with high humidity, those days make one feel a bit like gills would be more useful than lungs.  But not this morning. The high humidity is tolerable when the temperature is below 70°F.

While I’m grateful for the pleasant weather at the moment, I’m conscious of the fact that much of the rest of the world seems to be in a state of climatic chaos. Last week’s floods in Germany killed more than 160 people; I read this morning that the floods there were the worst in more than 700 years. And, as with any natural disaster, the political repercussions are in full-swing, with some political groups using the devastation to their advantage by blaming opposition politicians for the death and havoc. Germany, of course, is not alone in dealing with cataclysmic weather. Heavy flooding in central China has forced more than 200,000 from their homes. Passengers trapped in a subway car are among the reported eighteen dead from last week’s floods there.

Horrendous weather will befall all of us at some point. It’s not a question of whether, but when, The perpetual questions, of course, will revolve around whether climate change is responsible for fierce winds, unprecedented rainfall, withering droughts, ruinous low temperatures, deadly temperature spikes, and all the other natural phenomena. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, there will be those who deny climate change or, at least, the role humans play in it. Arguing about it is a waste of oxygen. Minds in the Year 2021 are not made up through exposure to facts and reasoned explanations; minds in this year are made up through political guidance that’s based almost exclusively on opposition to any positions taken by the opposition. It makes me want to swallow a powerful explosive device and then set it off as it nears my heart as it passes through my esophagus. A personal suicide bombing with minimal collateral damage. Except for the collateral damage of others’ disrupted and ruined lives. There’s no easy and painless way to put an end to perpetual human trauma.

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My mind jumps from idea to idea the way bees flit from flower to flower as they seek pollen. But while bees can behave in seemingly random, frenzied fashion, they ultimately produce honey. I, on the other hand, produce only half-finished (or even less complete) concepts that crumble into dust over time. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, though. Many of my stories and plot outlines and the like have potential still. They have not disintegrated into dust. At least not yet. I will, by God, do something with my writing before I get too old and feeble to make any sense out of my thousands of unfinished drafts.

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I am hungry. Not just a little bit, either. I could eat a monstrous breakfast this morning; broiled salmon drizzled with some miso and lime dressing, some rice, a little miso soup, some edamame, and shredded wakame. Actually, just a small breakfast as described would be just fine. I could lose weight on that kind of regimen.  But that won’t start today. Today I may cook bacon, instead. Ah, the world of good intention and paved roads.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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Please talk to me about what I've written. I get lonely when I'm the only one saying anything.

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