Bouncing Off Cell Walls

When I got out of bed this morning, a good hour after I first awoke, I went outside to hang the hummingbird feeders. The outside temperature felt so much better than inside. Inside, the thermometer registers 77 degrees; outside, 68. Except for the damn pollen, I’d have every window in the house open. We keep the thermostat at 78 for air conditioning in the warm seasons and at 68 for cool seasons. I prefer the cooler temperatures. My body was constructed for life in a cooler climate and, perhaps, a different era. I can imagine getting up early in the morning, hungry and ready to seek breakfast in the untamed wilds outside my cave. Nah, not really. If I’d been born to a cave-dweller several thousand years ago, I would have long since died. My disease-ridden body wouldn’t have made it past the age of twenty-one. But maybe things would have been different. Maybe the sedentary ways of my youth would have given way to frenzied physical activity as I chased game for food, climbed trees, sought shelter, and in a twist to history, invented the printing press.

Yes, I feel relatively confident that I would have been the first to conceive of and create the printing press, had I been born in the appropriate circumstances.  In fact, now that I’m thinking of it, I think I remember those early days when, in brief flashes of brilliance, I advanced civilization by hundreds, if not thousands, of years simply by executing outlandish ideas. Even before mining and extracting metal from ore, I used dried plant products to shape drums and gears and letters and, through ingenuity unheard of amongst other cave-dwellers, I manufactured the first printing press. Plant-based dyes, principally made from beet juice and roasted red peppers, constituted the first inks. After creating the press, making the ink, and creating crude papers, I printed several books. At the time, of course, no one knew how to read (even spoken language was in its youth in those days), but I toiled night and day to teach them. And then came the meteors. What a waste of energy and talent; my work was so advanced. Thousands of years before Johannes Gutenberg’s so-called breakthrough, I printed the first advertising flyer. But all those advances were lost in the meteor showers.

But I wasn’t talking about my early years, was I? No, I was expressing my preference for cooler weather when my fingers were hijacked by a delusional madman. Back to the matter at hand. I wonder if anyone has gathered daily high and low temperature data from all around the planet during the last, say, eighty years and has analyzed those data in a way that might identify the ideal location, strictly from the perspective of temperature? I’d like to know what places on this planet I might be able to visit and expect with some degree of certainty that overnight lows will never dip below 45F and daytime highs will never exceed 80F. And, if such places do not exist, what locations come closest? Once identified, I’d like to know more about the places. Is potable water readily available? Might I expect reliable food sources within easy walking distance? Is electricity available and affordable? How about high-speed internet and WiFi? I suppose I could do without some of the luxuries; if food is not within walking distance, I could cope as long as the roads are smooth and reasonably-priced bicycle rentals can be had.

What is it that causes an otherwise arguably  normal sixty-four-year-old man to slip into nonsensical blatherings such as I have just recorded here? Might the pollen be to blame? Did someone spike my coffee with lysergic acid diethylamide or other hallucinogenic substance? Were the mushrooms on yesterday’s pizza not the button variety? Maybe the  cells in my brain are out of whack and electrical impulses are bouncing off the cell walls.Some days, my normal teenage dementia returns with a vengeance, causing me to edge dangerously close to the edge of the precipice. Were I to fall, I might find it impossible to crawl out of the abyss of insanity. That’s why I should always carry a rope and a cell phone.

It’s now just after seven o’clock and the first cup of coffee is gone. The sky is absent clouds but a soft translucent haze makes the distant hills look like I am gazing out the window at the Smoky Mountains instead of the Ouachitas. I’m sure my wife will arise shortly and our house guest, too, will emerge from the guest room. I should prepare for those eventualities and should commence the process of cooking the casserole I prepared last night for today’s church shindig. Our guest will go visit the church she used to attend while my wife and I visit ours (and feed the gathered masses a rather nice chicken-potato-lemon casserole). Before attacking the rest of the day, I need another cup of dark, black, and very strong French roast coffee. That will calm my frazzled nerves, won’t it? Indeed it will.

About John Swinburn

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