Stigma

Routines that, until recently, guided me through the predawn hours have dissolved into misty memories over the course of the last few months.  I could point to a single change, over which I had no control, that caused the disruption—but such an observation might be misinterpreted to be an accusation. It is not. There is no assignment of blame in my observation, only recognition of causation. But, because of the potential for unintended misconception, I will refrain even from mentioning the single change that disturbed my long-settled routines. I will, instead, focus on its consequences.

No longer do I have the luxury of writing in absolute isolation, as darkness fades into diffuse light. My attention, easily distracted even in utter solitude, ricochets like a bullet fired at an angle toward the floor of an all-metal room. The soft sounds of gentle footsteps become thunderous, echoing like a swarm of staccato bass drums pounding through a deep canyon.  My train of thought jumps its tracks with every click of a light switch. Every time I hear a faucet open or close, my brain floods with unrelated thoughts that wash fresh ideas out of my head, leaving only pools of stagnant notions.

I cannot finish thoughts because. Any semblance of creativity drowns in dark, attention-eating waves of  misplaced or misdirected focus. The freedom to daydream or fantasize or hallucinate is shackled to a cage I share with reality, where fiction is treated as a canard, a crime punishable by psychic lobotomy. Even when words flow like a mountain stream following an epic rainstorm, the alphabet turns to vapor and the words disappear. What’s left is an empty screen strewn haphazardly with just a few letters and evidence of erasure.

Muck. Much. Mach. Mace. Male. Sale. Salt. Halt. Hall. Call. Cell. Bell. Belt. Bolt. Boot. Root. Riot.

This morning, I read an article that claimed our choice of fashion can have a significant  impact on the environment. Some jeans, for example, contribute substantial amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, thanks to the fabrics from which they are made, the detergents used to wash them throughout their lives, and various other issues. The simple solution, in my opinion, is universal nudity. Of course, the number of people who would become destitute due to the disappearance of their jobs would be astronomical. Partial nudity may be the answer, instead. Whether that means everyone going without shirts or certain regions of the world going naked while others wear thongs and sports coats, I do not know. What is the difference, I wonder, between partial nudity and semi-nude? And why do we so rarely read or hear those terms these days?

It’s time for me to shower and shave, brush my teeth, and get either partially or fully dressed. I have meetings to attend today; one at church this morning and another at church later this afternoon. Church. I still do not like that word applied to a building in which I often find myself. I’d rather it be designated a Gathering Place or an Intellectual Healing Compound or something else that does not carry the stigma of “church.” I may be in the minority when I say the word “church” carries a stigma. I’ll ask if that’s true during one or both of my meetings there today.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes "Intimacy is never wrong. It can be awkward, it can be unsettling, it can feel dangerous, it can seem out of place, but it’s never wrong."― John Swinburn
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