May You Be…

One of the reasons I often do not feel confident or competent when developing fictional characters who are stereotypically masculine males is that their personalities do not reside in me. The only aspect of their personalities that may mirror components of my own is their tendency to be loners, either intensely private or with public faces that conceal something they do not wish to share. But they do not readily express emotions, because the stereotypically masculine male does not reveal elements of his psyche generally considered feminine. When I write such characters into being, they tend to be emotionally shallow; incompetent to either express or understand emotions deeper than an affection for golf or hunting. I suspect, though, if I had the ability to explore such characters—real, nonfiction characters—I would find they are not as shallow as I usually perceive them to be. I imagine I would discover that they simply hide their sentimentality beneath layer upon layer of machismo—dry sweat and leather. I might learn they are afraid of looking weak. To that extent, we have commonalities. But they are better with camouflage than I. As I perceive my flawed writing the stereotypical male, though, I think it may not be my inability to write about him, but my fundamental dislike of him. I do not want to create another macho man. I do not want to add yet another to a world already overwhelmed with too many. I prefer to think my flaw is an emotional block rather than incompetence. But that may be just another way of protecting myself from an unwelcome reality.


This morning I read a piece in the New York Times in which the writer said he had always had a small social circle of around 12 people, but that number had been shrinking. His comment made me think about my own social circle. First, I had to define what social circle means to me and what it does not mean. It does not mean the totality of people with whom I have occasional social interactions; not all members of my church, for example. Those people constitute my circle of casual engagements. My social circle represents that far smaller number of people with whom I socialize regularly—or periodically. Unlike the writer, my small social circle might be called tiny; closer to four or five…six or seven if I were to expand the measures to include another degree of separation. My social circle, as I define it here, is entirely local; I have a very small number of friends who live in other places. Hmm. I wonder the “average” size of the “average person’s” social circle? There is no average person, of course. And, so, no average social circle. But, still we wonder, what are the most common sizes of social relationships of various kinds? The smaller the circle, I think, the more intense the relationships. But that is simply my thought about it; others may see if from a completely different perspective. One day, I may ask my social circle to think hard about the concept and share it with me. What if they refuse, though? That might cause me to rethink the theory.


I return to the oncologist’s office today for an injection, a follow-up to yesterday’s four-hour infusion of multiple chemotherapy drugs and related liquids. The intent of today’s experience is to minimize my risk of infection…I think. I took a list of 11 questions with me yesterday and I got answers to most of them. The question about what the purpose of today’s infusion/injection/whatever was not on my list; it should have been. Yesterday was the first time my blood draws and my therapeutic deliveries were made with my recently-implanted infuse-a-port, located on the upper right side of my chest. The port simplified the process, from my standpoint; at the very least, it eliminated what had become multiple attempts to find a suitable vein in one of my arms or one of my hands. My veins have become smaller, it seems, and more likely to roll as I have aged. More evidence of bodily degradation, I suppose.


My attempts to sleep last night between 8 and 11 were futile, as was my attempt to sleep after 3:30 this morning. But I napped for much of the afternoon after returning from the chemotherapy session, between 4 and 7. I have accumulated an enormous stockpile of rest; my reserve of sleep should serve me for much of the rest of this century. I know, it doesn’t work that way. I should.


A different language is a different vision of life.

~ Federico Fellini ~


Crows, some of them the size of cats, sit in my driveway and perch in the trees around the front of the house. They are noisy creatures, their sounds utterly different from roosters but just as loud. I am certain they communicate with one another with the calls and cries and songs (though I have a bit of trouble calling any of those noises “calls”). What are they saying, I wonder? Though I seriously doubt they use a syntax anything like ours, they must have patterns of sounds that carry meaning for one another. Otherwise, why would they make those noises. I have the same questions about cats. Phaedra’s meows and yowls have very specific meanings, I believe, and I think I have come to have a rudimentary understanding of some of them. Dogs, too, communicate with barks and sighs and growls and such. As do most other creatures. Whales’ songs. Snakes’ hisses. What an enormously interesting world it would be—even more so than it is already—if humans could understand the languages of animals and could communicate in those languages.


From the same article I mentioned above:

“May you be healthy and free of pain.”

“May your life be filled with happiness.”

“May you find peace.”

“May you always be treated kindly.”

About John Swinburn

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