Solitude versus Engagement

Most of the multiple posts I’ve written over the past several days will remain drafts for the foreseeable future. None of them have so far captured what’s been on my mind, at least not in a way that I’m willing to share with that tiny sliver of the world that might happen by my blog. I suppose part of the problem is that I don’t quite know what’s been on my mind. I know only that it combines darkness with fear. Perhaps I’m uneasy about the status of my health; whether cancer and/or its subsequent treatment are the only things causing my pains. I’ve been uneasy about that for months. I questioned my surgeon, during my post-surgery follow-up, about feeling bloated on my right side. He dismissed it as nothing of concern. Three-plus months later, though, it’s still a concern, meritorious of concern or not. And my esophagitis, still problematic more than three weeks after my last radiation treatment, makes swallowing hard. Maybe it’s all hypochondria. I’d rather think my mental state is out of kilter than to think my physical condition is precarious.

But none of that stuff explains the other stuff. The stuff surrounding a vague sense that I’m ready to abandon this place I live and try someplace new. It’s not so vague, actually. It’s becoming more acute with each passing day. But I’ve had those acute sensations before, thoughts about wanting to leave and try on a new life. They pass. But not always. And not completely. Maybe those lingering wishes to “move on” explain why, even after affirmatively abandoning the idea of living out of an RV, I’m still envious of people who have the option of waking up one day and simply leaving.

What keeps us tied to a place? For me, it’s the financial shackles: home ownership, vehicle registrations, etc. All the legal entanglements that trap us into setting up webs that make it hard to escape. We do it to ourselves. We set down roots that are hard to cut. On the one hand, that may make us feel like we’ve found “home.” On the other, the roots are like manacles, tying us to a prison of of our own making. It’s self-incarceration.

These thoughts flood my mind the day after I finally unwrapped and hung on our mug rack, newly-affixed to the wall, a bunch of mugs we’ve been carting around with us during our moves since 1997. Maybe that act triggered the most recent sense of being chained to a place to which I do not want to be chained. It’s not just this place. It’s any place. I don’t want to feel trapped in a place. Even this place, where I’ve come closer than other places, to establishing friendships. Coming closer, though, is not the same as actually reaching that point. I don’t think my personality can take me to that point. It’s either my personality or the personalities of dozens of other people. The mug rack, though, is now a commitment. Putting it up requires me to acknowledge greater permanence than I want to have to acknowledge.

I’m in the mood this morning to feel the sense of isolation I think I’d feel if I were to wake up in a tiny adobe shelter in the hinterlands of New Mexico. I wonder why that distance from other human beings is so appealing sometimes? I don’t know. There’s so much I don’t know about my self and my moods. I know, this morning, that I prefer solitude to engagement.

About John Swinburn

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