A Circuitous Route

Some concepts are subject to generational evaporation. For example, the idea that a person can “cherish” or be cherished. Baby Boomers, as a group, understand it. If for no other reason the 1966 tune written by Terry Kirkman and recorded by the Association, entitled Cherish, the word (and the concept) entered our vocabulary. But I suspect the term and its meaning both skipped subsequent generations. Do Millenials or GenX or GenZ or the latest cohorts know the word? I doubt it. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of word that slip quietly out of regular usage. Language is not static. Knowing that, getting sentimental about words disappearing and new one appearing is rather silly. But people tend to get sentimental about such things. I suppose we tend to associate specific words with treasured—or despised—experiences. Members of subsequent generations may not have such experiences or they may have them but may not make the same linguistic connections to them. This train of thought probably does not matter to anyone but me at the moment; but that’s true of so many of my thoughts.


The vibrancy of a cosmopolitan city. The charm and pace of a pacific village. The serenity of a hidden, quiet, purely personal retreat. Mountainous forests, long stretches of empty sand beaches, majestic cliffs overlooking endless ocean scenes, the hustle and bustle of city crowds, and the peaceful silence of places known only to the select few. If only it all existed in just one place. But no such place exists. Those people fortunate enough to have the resources to be where they wish, choices must be made. The extremely fortunate among us can move from place to place, but even they cannot bring all those desirable spots together in one place. Decisions are required. People must establish priorities. But some people cannot force themselves to choose. For some people, choices are their demons. A decision to pick one place means others are not selected; those others may then become even more attractive—and the person who made the choice begins to resent his selection. In the absence of Shangri-La, the place that combines every desirable attribute, every place becomes almost hellishly imperfect. Choice of places to be represent only one kind of demon. Choices about who to be—or who not to be—can be equally demonic. In fact, every opportunity for choice can represent a risk…to be dissatisfied or, at minimum, incompletely satisfied. Is it a personality flaw or simply an accident of existence? Everyone has an opinion, but no one—having selected which opinion to hold—can be certain he has chosen the right one.


Orange and yellow leaves are raining down from the trees outside my window. Every strong gust of wind tears countless leaves from their branches, sending them down to cover the ground. Over time, many of those leaves will compost naturally, providing nutrients to the trees that once held the younger, greener versions of the leaves close. If cannibalism applied to non-animal living things, I would say the process of trees “eating” their own (and other trees’) leaves represents cannibalism. But the dictionary tells me cannibalism applies only to animals. Perhaps, if I tried, I could find a terms that applies to plants. But I have not tried and probably won’t. It’s not that important to me. But I am modestly curious. So if anyone reading this knows the answer, I will be grateful if you tell me.


If I had the energy, I might write about my long, somewhat annoying trek to the airport yesterday afternoon…and the long, unplanned route I took driving home. But I do not have the energy at the moment. More espresso, please. Okay, I’ll take care of that.

About John Swinburn

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