A few days ago, in a conversation with a friend, I revealed that I often had been extremely demanding and hard on my staff during my work life. She said she, too, had high expectations of her employees—when those expectations were not met, she reacted harshly. Like me, she did nice things for her staff, too; gave them “goodies” on a regular basis, gave them discounted prices on products the business sold, etc. In both our cases, those niceties did not seem to overcome the exacting expectations and the consequences of failing to meet them.  In hindsight, both of us see the errors of our ways with painful clarity.

After our conversation, I gave the  matter considerably more thought. And I explored how, and whether, I could make amends for years of being the kind of employer I would never tolerate as an employee. There are dozens of resources, online and otherwise, about how to deal with an overly demanding boss. It is easy to find suggestions for successfully navigating a workplace with a boss whose expectations are unrealistic and who readily demonstrates his or her displeasure with performance that does not meet his expectations. But it’s not so easy to find out how to seek absolution for what, in hindsight, seems unforgiveable. Perhaps a letter to people one has “wronged” would suffice.  But the task of finding people is almost insurmountable. And, it occurs to me, letters would be written as a means of making me feel better; not to lighten the load of people who undeservedly incurred my wrath. Perhaps I do not deserve absolution; perhaps I deserve to live with the realization that I once was (and may still be?) an inconsiderate bastard who does not merit forgiveness.

Those are issues I am afraid will not be resolved for some time to come, if ever. They have been on my mind for a long time and they will remain there, gnawing at my sense of self-worth like a dog chews on a bone.  Perhaps that is the price one pays for allowing oneself to let unreasonably high expectations of performance overwhelm one’s sense of compassion. You live with who you are until you no longer can.


Never inflict your rage on another. If you hope for eternal rest, feel the pain yourself; but don’t hurt others.

   ~ Omar Khayyam ~

When I awoke this morning, I heard what sounded like torrential rain on the roof. But I did not attempt to look outside, to see whether it was, in fact, raining. A few minutes ago, I looked outside but could not see whether the deck was wet. It was not raining then, but it might have been raining earlier. I just do not know. Sometimes, it pays to verify one’s perceptions of the world in which we live; otherwise, we might as well be living in a dream. Or a nightmare.

I dreamed last night I was in a long line of people waiting to board a cruise ship. I worried that I had no ticket; nothing that would prove I had paid for the cruise. But when I made it to the ship, I was allowed on and, at the reception desk, my name was found on a passenger list. I was given a questionnaire to complete. From there, I suddenly found myself in a swimming pool full of people; everyone in the pool was completing their questionnaires. Someone asked about a drink of water. “Don’t drink from the pool water, it’s very dirty,” came the reply. My recollection of the dream ends there. There may have been more; maybe not.  In the dream, I thought it odd that I would be in a swimming pool, trying to complete a passenger questionnaire; but I did not inquire about the oddity of that strange circumstance. I thought asking the question might reveal that I did not buy my ticket; and, because whoever did was not there, I might be thrown off the ship. So I simply went along with the weirdness. I wonder whether, in the real world, I would behave like a sheep that way?


We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.”

   ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~

“Sleeping in” is, for some people, a luxury. For me, it plunders my sense of serenity—when I sleep late, the day loses its footing even before it begins. And it doesn’t take much to lay waste to what might be an otherwise productive day. Yesterday was such a day. I slept in until “only” almost 6:30. Consequently, I did not write a legitimate blog post. I did not get to Lowe’s to investigate utility sinks and faucets. I did not finish painting the “bonus room” in my current home. My list of to-do items grew longer, not shorter. But I almost finished painting the laundry room (which I’ve intended to paint for the entire eight years I’ve lived in this house)—although an uncooperative dryer vent hose slowed progress to a crawl. And I moved quite a few tools to the new house. And I returned a long-ago borrowed item to a friend, which led to a lengthy visit and, therefore, away from productivity. However, as is often the case, I realized I needed that break from “productivity.” As the day began to dim, I called it a day and I took a much-needed shower. Then, I sat in my recliner to relax. Mi novia made me a drink. A little later, she made me another. I let that one sit, untouched, while I “rested” for awhile. Until it was time to discard the untouched drink and go to bed early. I think I may have needed to get up late and go to sleep very early.


Profundity refuses to spill from my fingers this morning, so I will rest them for awhile. Perhaps tomorrow I will have recovered a tiny bit of my sense of self; enough to write something that matters.

About John Swinburn

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