Concerns. They’re also called burdens. Or worries. Or apprehensions. Uneasiness. Misgivings. Lots of synonyms for concerns. I allow myself to have more than my share. I admire people who can let those bothersome emotions slide off of them like water off oil-cloth. Envy may be the better word. I don’t know that I hold them in admiration.

I understand why people take drugs. It’s not always to relieve pain. It’s not pain they’re trying to mask, it’s a constant tightness that grips them with just enough force to make breathing difficult. It’s an ongoing sense of anxiety, a feeling that peril is just around the next bend. That life, itself, is a menace.  But then, in the blink of an eye, it can disappear. I think meditation might help, although I wonder if meditation might actually accentuate the feeling of danger. Maybe that’s why people something eschew meditation and opt for medication, instead. I’m afraid I would take far too much, far too soon.


Solitude is not the same when the house is empty. Even though my solitude changed when my wife began waking much earlier than usual, that change was nothing compared to the solitude I have now that she’s in the hospital for physical rehabilitation. I much prefer solitude when I know she is in another room in the house. This solitude without her presence is stark and brittle. It would be different if she were simply away visiting friends.  I know that to be true, from experience. But the fact that she’s in the hospital changes the face of solitude. It’s an empty, aching, lonely solitude. I can’t wait until she’s back home.


I spent time early this morning viewing the Sunday sermon by our church minister. It struck a nerve with me, one that has been exposed for a while. That is, what are we doing to live our expressed philosophies, outside our own heads? In other words, are we just talking a good game of liberal theology, or are we going to do something to change the world into the kind of place we believe it should be? His sermon did not answer the question, of course, but he put it squarely in front of us. Anyone who views the video will understand the challenge, I think. And it’s not just “us” as the collective; it’s “us” as individuals. What am I, personally, going to do? That question merits serious consideration. It forces me to look beyond the privilege of being happy that I am able to engage with like-minded people.  It’s a challenge I’ve felt for as long as I can remember; but for as long as I can remember, I haven’t done much with it. Will I do something with it now that it’s on my mind in a different way? Time will tell.


Everyone is fragile in one way or another. Each one of us is like a piece of delicate crystal, laced with millions of invisible imperfections. That web of tiny blemishes—I hate to call them flaws—subjects us to all manner of damage, simply by exposure to the jarring events of everyday life. We live in constant danger of everything from minor cracking to explosive shattering.

I remember seeing a disturbing scene on television, in which someone on a subway platform accidentally jostled another passenger, who fell between an oncoming train and the platform. The passenger survived the incident seemingly intact, but he was stuck between the train and the platform. Eventually, viewers learned of the passenger’s mortal injuries. The pressure of the train on his body against the platform prevented him from bleeding out from his internal injuries, but when the train car was tilted away from his body, the man’s internal injuries cause massive hemorrhaging and he died. All that from an accidental jostle on a subway platform. It was fiction, but fiction is simply reality reordered to fit a story; it’s the bottle hurled into the ocean, the one in which the message is found on a distant shore.

Fiction can remind us how delicate and brittle we are. The world around us, too, can prompt us to remember that the crystalline perfection of our lives can crack or shatter in an instant. We may be crystal or we may be fabric; the fabric of our well-ordered lives can snag , rip, or tear, or come completely unraveled. Whether made of dense crytal or flexible cloth, our lives can transform from supremacy to chaos in an instant.

I remember a stanza from a poem I wrote several years ago; it makes me consider how the fabric of our lives, even when it tears, can become comfortably embracing:

We scuffed our emotions against sharp
sentimental objects so many times they
shredded into strings like worn cotton,
as soft and ephemeral as clouds.


So many things cloud my mind this morning. They have turned what could have been a bright, sunny day into a cold, foggy, wet walk along a desolate pier. It will change. I will walk into the dry sunlight. But, in the interim, I will skirt the water’s edge, hoping I don’t slip on wet seaweed that clings to the wooden boardwalk, spilling into the choppy waters below. I can swim. But do I want to?


Formica. It’s a brand name, but it has become a generic term for a laminate applied to a substrate. The process by which a trademarked product becomes generic is called genericization. Another brand name for the same type of product is Wilsonart. I suspect Wilsonart has invested energy and, perhaps, money into murdering the genericization of Formica. In that sense, I would say Wilsonart is not so much a competitor to Formica, but an ally. But I may be wrong.

There was a time when Formica was the preferred countertop material. It is attracting (depending on one’s perspective), durable, and relatively easy to install. Plus, it’s far cheaper than many of its more upscale competitors. I used to view Formica as cheap crap. I much preferred granite. But, when I got granite, I realized how much more practical Formica is. Granite has been turned into status-stone. The same is true with quartz and stone substitutes like crushed quartz embedded in other materials. Pricey, attractive (perhaps), but less practical than Formica. If I were to build a house today, I suspect I would use Formica in some places; maybe I’d use quartz and quartz-like materials in others. But not granite. And I’d fee snobbish and overly-privileged to use quartz. Odd, the transformations we go through as we age. We ripen into wiser beings with slightly sour outlooks on even sweet vistas.


So far today, I’ve taken care of the hummingbird feeder, watered the plants on the deck, showered, shaved, washed a load of towels, and written meandering stream-of-consciousness drivel. I’m listening to the “Spa” stream from Amazon Music; it is not doing what I hoped. It is not calming me, putting me in a state of serenity. In fact, it’s beginning to annoy me. Soon, I’ll either tell Alexa to play something else or to be quiet. Or I’ll pounce on her with a heavy rubber mallet and will pound her so she’ll never play another note from a flute again. Back to the towels. I think they’re almost ready for the dryer.

After the towels are done, I’ll head in to Hot Springs to visit my wife at the physical rehab center.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Concerns

  1. Thanks, Phil.

  2. Phil says:

    All the best from here, John.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.