The Morning of January 6 2021

My drive to Little Rock to retrieve my wife’s ashes and a stack of death certificates from the crematorium yesterday was uneventful. The interaction I had with the crematorium’s representative was all business; she was polite, but I experienced no genuine warmth nor any indication that our interaction was anything other than business. Condolences and consolation were not part of the interchange. Like the text message several days earlier, our conversation yesterday was strictly transactional; sign here, sign there, now here is your package and have a good day. I am not sure I should have expected anything more than I got, but I left with a sense that matters of death and cremation are, for her, simply business transactions. And I am not sure that isn’t as it should be, though it felt cold and empty to me. But I got over it or, at least, I will.

From the crematorium, I went to Colonial Liquor, where I bought Flyway Honeybird blonde ale to satisfy the thirst of last night’s guests. Because it was still early when I stopped by Colonial, I called the Subaru dealer to inquire whether I could have the 72K maintenance service for the car done in a timely manner. I was assured it was doable. And so I took the car in. In less time than the service advisor estimated, they had replaced the engine oil and filter, cabin air filter, rotated the tires, and conducted a survey of other systems that revealed nothing of consequence. So I headed home. The trip to Little Rock and back was not nearly as difficult, emotionally, as I had expected. My anticipation of spending time with friends from church last night probably had a great deal to do with that; that coincidence may well have kept a fragile vessel from shattering. That may seem overly dramatic; I know myself, though.

Last night, my guests brought two pizzas and a tasty dessert pie and a complementary dessert beer, as well as a bottle of wine that remains unopened. I did not even realize the wine was here until they left. And it did not occur to me until they were gone that I contributed no money to the purchase of the pizza. I feel a need to reimburse for a significant share of the pizzas, especially because one, untouched, remains in my refrigerator; I’ll figure that out.

I think the evening with my guests was largely responsible for my ability to withstand what could otherwise have been a very trying day. We laughed at one another’s stories and I truly enjoyed the company of people with whom I am finally beginning to allow myself to open up. And I’m not referring to opening up my grief; I mean opening up my self.  I enjoyed a few hours of genuine relaxation, a casual atmosphere in which laughter filled the air.

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I awoke to the news that Raphael Warnock won in Georgia yesterday, defeating his obnoxious opponent, Kelly Loeffler. The other Georgia race, between Jon Ossoff and David Perdue is still too tight to declare a winner; I am so very hopeful that Ossoff will win it. But, still, there is the perfunctory Congressional “sign-off” on Biden’s victory that, thanks to partisan lies and Republicans’ abandonment of decency, honor, and integrity, that has become yet another Republican attempt to overturn the will of the people. I am attempting to control my rage this morning; I am sure I will, but it will take more effort than usual. There was a time, not too many years ago, when I disagreed with Republican philosophies but I respected our differences. Not today. Today, I hold the majority of Republican supporters of Trump and his legion of liars in utter contempt. Their philosophies do not drive them; their motives are based entirely on an unhealthy lust for power and control.

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I watched an intriguing BBC video this morning about the widespread and very strong support in Sweden of the country’s welfare state tax system. What I find especially illuminating about Swedish attitudes about high taxes is that Swedes view their taxes not as paying for welfare for the least productive members of the society but, instead, for public sector services for all members of the society. They look at the taxes they pay for schools, public transit, social safety nets for everyone, etc. as valuable benefits and good justification for high tax rates. I would be interested in getting the perspective of one of my online friends and bloggers, an American who is married to a Swede and lives permanently in Sweden. If she happens to read this little snippet, I would love to read her take on the pros and cons of Sweden’s tax structure and the benefits that accrue thereto.

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Distasteful tasks and chores tend to make me lethargic. That’s how I justify my slothfulness, anyway. In fact, though, work I do not want to do amplifies my lack of discipline. It’s not lethargy; it’s capitulation to undisciplined weaknesses and shortcomings. I wonder whether I should explore taking drugs to rectify my failings? Speed, for example. Probably not. I’m scared even of the idea.

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I must take out the trash today, unlike last Wednesday. Last week, I got the bag as far as the garage, but never got it to the curb. Since then, I’ve added three or four more bags (justifiable, I say, that I’ve added so much; it’s not that I have generated so much more trash, but the explanation is longer than my fingers wish to explain). I have until about 11 to take the bags to curbside; if I do not do that, I will punish myself in some way. Perhaps it’s better if I reward myself if I do it, yes? That’s the perpetual question: is punishment or reward the best teacher? We all know reward tends to work better, yet we keep falling back on punishment when we do a poor job with reward.

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I’m leaning toward melancholy as the morning matures. I do not want to give in to that mood. I will move on to something else, something other than writing, to improve my disposition. But what? Time will tell. It always does.

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to The Morning of January 6 2021

  1. Robin, this poem is so powerful! Thanks so much for sharing it. I saw your comment only this morning; what a wonderful way to awaken to my new perspective on the world.

  2. robin andrea says:

    I just read this poem and wanted to share it with you.

    ANTIDOTES TO FEAR OF DEATH
    by Rebecca Elson

    Sometimes as an antidote
    To fear of death,
    I eat the stars.

    Those nights, lying on my back,
    I suck them from the quenching dark
    Til they are all, all inside me,
    Pepper hot and sharp.

    Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
    Into a universe still young,
    Still warm as blood:

    No outer space, just space,
    The light of all the not yet stars
    Drifting like a bright mist,
    And all of us, and everything
    Already there
    But unconstrained by form.

    And sometime it’s enough
    To lie down here on earth
    Beside our long ancestral bones:

    To walk across the cobble fields
    Of our discarded skulls,
    Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
    Thinking: whatever left these husks
    Flew off on bright wings.

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