Some mornings, words flow like water from a freshly-charged underground spring. Other mornings, language drips from my fingers onto the keyboard in excruciating slow motion, as if I had dipped my hands in hot tar and then plunged them into a bath of dry ice. This is one of those other mornings. I’ve been at it since around four o’clock; I have almost nothing to show. My creativity peaked while cobbling together a recipe for Ethiopian mitmita, using scraps and pieces from cooks and chefs far better equipped than I. As for true creativity, I believe I left it overnight in a chest-style deep freeze somewhere in rural Nebraska. Inasmuch as I have not been to rural Nebraska since I lived in Chicago in the late 1980s, I think the creativity succumbed to terminal freezer burn. I have been to Nebraska since I lived in Chicago, but the sole visit was to Omaha and not to the desolate stretches of rural Nebraska where I must have encountered the chest freezer.

The problem is not necessarily creativity, or the lack thereof. The problem is that I have nothing of any consequence to say. When the value of one’s words evaporates into an invisible cloud and blows away in a fierce wind, one’s mind becomes a vacant wasteland. An empty, irrelevant vessel unable even to serve as a repository of bad ideas. Even the bad ideas leaked out through massive cracks, wider and longer than the walls and fences they replaced. The mind is porous.

The problem with that is easy to see; leaks can occur in both directions, but the pressure inside is greater than outside, so the contents escape like air from a fractured balloon. A balloon can burst, but can it fracture? Perhaps a frozen balloon can fracture, but the volume of air in a frozen balloon would have shrunk from its original size, so the membrane would have wizened. A wizened balloon is not subject to fracture; it simply falls, limp, to the ground, its purpose gone with the volume of escaped air.

What is the purpose of a balloon? Do balloons have intrinsic purposes? I suspect they do. Their fundamental reason for being is to protect contents within the balloon’s sealed membrane from interacting with the external environment. But maybe their real purpose is not to protect what’s inside the membrane; instead, the purpose may be to protect the external environment from contamination by the matter confined within the balloon’s membrane.

I’ve written about balloons before. On one occasion, I wrote, “Emotions are best sealed in casks filled with lead and dropped into the deepest part of the sea; if not that, then released like white doves and helium balloons.”

I am too tired to finish the remaining half cup of my cold coffee. It’s nearing 6:30 and I’m well past tired; I’m worn. This is an unwritten sign; I should let my body try to rest.

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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