Burning Desire

The replacement of the old, non-working gas logs with a new set came just in time, right before the first significant cold front of the season arrived. We seasoned the new gas logs with five hours of burning at the highest setting. Those few hours made the living room quite toasty and comfortable, while providing mesmerizing entertainment; I can spend hours just watching flames lick the air.

Watching fire is not really entertainment, is it? Flames do not entertain me—they captivate me. They capture my imagination.  They hypnotize me. They transport me to another place and another time when I am a different person. Someone brimming with self-confidence and certainty. Someone strong-willed but gentle. But, as I imagine this other me, I realize he would no longer be me; he would be someone else, an artificial replacement for the real thing. So, perhaps I should retain my identity, as flawed and worn and scarred as it is. Odd, isn’t it, that the installation of a set of gas logs should cause intense introspection? I suspect my introspection is always ready to burst through the surface; it does not—did not —need to be triggered by flames.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

~ Leonardo da Vinci ~


Thanksgiving is inching closer. The closer it gets, the more committed I become to making the day’s meal(s) casual and simple. Hours-long preparation and rigid attention to details no longer hold any appeal for me. At least not at the moment. I suppose it’s a matter of mood. I treasure memories of traditional Thanksgiving meals, but the non-traditional culinary experiences of years past are equally appealing. Which ones are most attractive at any given time depends on how I feel at the moment. Mood-switching makes planning a bit of a challenge. Spontaneity appeals to me, but it tends to create chaos when, suddenly, it requires ingredients impossible to find on short notice.


Ever since we moved into the house in which we live, the refrigerator from my former home has been in the garage. We have been planning to move it into the laundry room when we have access to sufficient young, strong, and willing people. But, this morning, I wonder whether I should sell it, instead. Unlike the role of the garage refrigerator at the old house, this one does not perform a major overflow function. We store only a few items in the garage refrigerator now; nothing we could not adjust to if the refrigerator were no longer available. I do not know whether this is a temporary idea or something to which I might become committed. At the moment, though, I am leaning toward satisfying my desire for minimalism. Things that are “nice to have” but rarely used are luxuries, pure and simple. Indulging oneself with such luxuries is a bit embarrassing. But I might change my mind about that. From time to time, I can be a little wishy-washy. I suppose that is an indication that I tend to avoid making firm, unwavering decisions. But that does not describe me. At least it does not describe me all the time. Uh-oh. I feel my thoughts about the garage refrigerator morphing into an assessment of myself. It is like a stream of consciousness, which has been held back by a dam, has been freed, creating a set of rapids comprising fleeting ideas. Those ideas flood against the banks of rational thought that manage their flow, carving away at reason. Bits and pieces of reason and fancy, swirling together in the flow, transform into unrelated thoughts. Magic. Or witchcraft.


Democrats retained control of the Senate. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority is tiny, which illustrates the depth of the political divide in the U.S.; as does the growing likelihood that Republicans will gain a House majority. In both cases, though, the degree of control is slim. While on one hand I wish progressive philosophies controlled both houses of Congress, complete control assures only that compromise is unlikely. When control is fragile, compromise is the only way for both sides to reach at least some of their objectives. In my opinion, the best option available to both is a formal public exploration, by leaders of both parties in both houses, of opportunities to reach mutual agreement on critical matters. An open admission that politics can be successful ONLY when the players are willing to compromise. But the hunger for power in recent years has overwhelmed the desire for progress. That same hunger has morphed into an appetite for confrontation. And the objective of preventing the other side from making any headway, at any cost, has taken control of political interactions. If I were supreme emperor, I would identify all the politicians who stand in the way of reaching agreements and I might issue the command: “Off with their heads!” But we do not live in a  monarchy over which I have absolute control. That is unfortunate. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next session of Congress.


Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.

~ Lao Tzu ~


Burning desire generally does not involve possessions. Longing for the vague and ephemeral is a curse that cannot be undone by collecting possessions, nor by practicing asceticism. Happiness is transitory, but cyclical and eternal.

And with that, I bid you a good day.

About John Swinburn

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