Burnished with Experience

Suddenly, yesterday, it hit me: the urgency of reducing the volume of food stored in two refrigerators and two freezers. When the time comes to move, just a week and a half hence, that volume must be considerably less. In an effort to make it so, yesterday I used up the remnants of a bag of frozen shrimp and a bag of frozen cod, along with a few ripening Roma tomatoes and a big handful of bright green spinach. Flavored with a couple of cloves of garlic, a bit of dried oregano, and a dash of red pepper flakes and coarsely-ground black pepper, the seafood tasted quite nice. I served it with the contents of bag of frozen broccoli (the kind that can be steamed in the bag), brightened with freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Note to self: fresh broccoli is approximately one thousand times better. Despite the disappointing broccoli, I thought the dish was excellent. I was rather proud of the fact that I made it up without the aid of a recipe.

But that was only a start. Between now and the time the movers come to relocate our furniture, we need to dedicate ourselves to powering through frozen foods and other stuff that might not respond well to an extended amount of time in an ice chest. There’s something to be said for buying a new refrigerator to correspond with a move; that way, food can be simply transferred from one refrigerator to a fresh, new one. That will not happen this time, though. I’ll make a mental note for the next move. Except, by then, I want my move to require only a knapsack and wanderlust.


This morning, as I opened the application (WordPress) that I use to produce this blog, I noticed some statistics; I am fewer than thirty posts shy of reaching the magic number of 4,000. There’s nothing really magical about that number. But it seems almost impossibly large to me. Four thousand posts. How many times, I wonder, have I posted how surprised I am to have posted X-number of posts? How many times have I expressed the same thoughts; just repackaged with fresher words and burnished with more experience? How many times have I revealed secrets about who I am that I later regretted sharing?

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.

   ~ May Sarton ~

But the thing that struck me most about approaching that enormous number was this: few, if any, of those posts successfully “get inside the head” of someone other than myself. As much as I want to see the world through your eyes, I cannot do that until you share the view with me. I think my posts might enable readers (especially those who frequently read what I write) to share my vista. I just wish those same readers would share theirs with me. When I try to see the world through someone else’s eyes, I recognize my vision is not clear enough; my view is blurred by tears or grains of sand or shadows of unknown origin. Whether through their own blog posts or one-on-one conversations or just their comments on what I write, I would value the opportunity to experience—at least to try to see—the world through your eyes. To feel the way they feel . To rejoice in their experiences or to wither at their insurmountable challenges. By writing, though, I attempt to understand the world from other angles. Including the one with the view through lenses that do not belong to me.


Everything breaks. Fine crystal glasses. Pencil leads. Tree branches. Plastic chopsticks. Spirits. Hearts. Some things can be repaired. Others must be discarded or recycled in a different form or simply accepted in their imperfect, broken forms.


I am leery of people who do not or cannot show deep emotions. A stoical countenance seems to me an overt repression of something I value as a window to a person’s identity: emotion. I tend to distrust a person who exhibits what the dictionary would call “a calm, austere fortitude.” I  assume that beneath that extremely serene exterior is a cauldron—a pressure-cooker filled with steel ball-bearings—heated almost to its limit and likely to explode at any moment. If I were unable to reveal the pressure of daily living through emotional release, I imagine I might at some point unleash an explosion that would rival an atomic blast; nuclear winter would follow.


The temperature outside is a chilly 55°F this morning. The forecast calls for a high today of about 72°F; tomorrow, an increase to 77°F. Next week, highs will flirt with 90°F. The evils of summer are almost upon us. I may yet react to chiggers and summertime temperatures by moving to a more hospitable climate. There, I could bask in the comfort of weather better-suited to humans. And I could battle with myself about whether solitude and isolation can overcome the need to be in the presence of people who matter.

I want to live in a communal setting. Privacy when needed or desired, transparency and openness when appropriate. We all live in that paradise right now. But we close our eyes to it when it suits us. “That paradise” is wherever we happen to be. It’s just a matter of mind-set and taking advantage of every circumstance.

About John Swinburn

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