Conflict often puts me in competition with myself. That clash takes the form of a struggle between the sometimes irrational desire for more personal possessions and the intense longing for serenity—austere simplicity. I want the luxury of more or better and I want the tranquility of less. The rivalry between two ends of that emotional spectrum describes a kind of hypocrisy; obligations or responsibilities (i.e., ownership) on one end and freedom (i.e., extreme flexibility) on the other. The emotional needs (if that is what they are) associated with the competing urges are incompatible; satisfying either one makes it impossible to satisfy the other. Attempting to mollify them by accepting both fewer possessions and more complexity achieves nothing but permanent dissatisfaction. Hard choices involve rejecting one or the other: either extreme wealth and the responsibilities and commitments that come with it or the freedoms and spartan existence that accompany poverty. I tend not to make the hard choices, as if I believe compromise is possible. I know better, but do not have the discipline to come to grips with reality.


I am not worried about humankind. The species either will successful overcome existential challenges or it won’t. If humans are unable to meet those challenges, my hope would be for the species’ end to come from a sudden, catastrophic, instantaneous event. But my hope will not have any influence on how quickly or slowly an extinction might take place. And, of course, there is no assurance that extinction will come. “We” may implement solutions to meet any and all challenges. I will have no influence on any such solutions, either. I expect to be gone long before those solutions are employed. In fact, I imagine all living things—human and otherwise—here today will be long gone, too. How many cycles of life and death, I wonder, will take place between now and our eventual success or failure? My curiosity, I am afraid, will not be satisfied. I am resigned to the fact that some form of human frailty or exhaustion will claim my life well in advance of the answer revealing itself. We’re all in the same boat. Unless, of course, the answer is upon us. I’ll wait as long as I can.


Who is responsible for all the myths we’re told? Who told each of the stories for the first time? Was there meaning in those stories, or were the stories simply diversions from the drudgery of daily life? Mythology is one of dozens of disciplines that did not receive enough attention from me when I my brain was more receptive to learning. Dozens may be an optimistic number; it might be hundreds, or more.


I expect to participate in a Zoom call with my siblings, et al in a few hours. By then, the plumbers may have come and gone, along with one or two other contractors who will make the house more suitable to human habitation. Could I really ever prefer a life of asceticism? Or am I a romantic delusionist?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Conflict

  1. Larry D Legan says:

    Freedom’s just another word for “nothing left to lose.”
    The ultimate destination for those of means with poetic talents.

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