Conflicting Self-Interests

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

~ Epictetus ~

Those words may raise a question for people who identify as writers. What would Epictetus say to them? Perhaps:

We have two eyes and favor one hand over another for writing, so we can read twice as much as we write.

~ Epictetus ~ (maybe)

This causes another possibility to pop up:

We have one mouth and one brain; someone who relies on the former instead of the latter may be labeled “mouthy,” while the reverse could prompt a label of “brainy.”


The plain old voice-only telephone (or today’s basic cell phone) is wholly unsatisfactory as a two-way communications device. Talking over one another. One party asking another to repeat what was said (thanks to talk-over). Words are exchanged over the phone; facial expressions and other such cues to a party’s emotional state are not. Telephone voices, although often recognizable to those involved in the conversation, lack the depth—the resonant fullness—of face-t0-face, person-to-person conversations. Those unsatisfactory aspects of telephones contribute substantially to my preference for conversations that take place in the same room. Video calls are better than voice-only phones, but they lack almost as much dimension as do their image-less counterparts.

Perhaps oddly, even though vocal inflection is missing in text-based messages (email or instant messenger applications), I prefer them to voice-only. The knowledge that I can delay replying, even for a microscopically short moment, gives me more time to understand the message, before thinking of a response or reaction. Face-to-face discussions tend to be more forgiving, still, lending themselves to an unspoken mutual agreement that both participants are free to think aloud. Potential problems exist there, though, inasmuch as confusing, convoluted free-form thinking may stray from the topic at hand. But those are some of the most appealing and engaging conversations.


For quite some time, my interest in detective/private investigator (PI)/etc. work has been growing. Movies and series that depict the role as potentially exciting and probably interesting have, no doubt, contributed to my interest. This morning, out of idle curiosity, I explored what’s required to become a PI in Arkansas. First, to apply for a PI license, “Arkansas requires two years of consecutive on-the-job training with a licensed investigations company before you can apply for licensure.” Applicants must: be at least 21 (I qualify); pass a background check; pass a written examination with a grade of at least 70%; squeak by (at least) on a mental evaluation; a few others. Oh, and pay a fee of $486.25. I think I could swing all that, though finding a job and working two years in a PI company might be a challenge. Just waiting two years would be quite the challenge. Another option, I suppose, that’s probably even more challenging, might be to go to work in a police department, as a detective; but that probably requires a couple of years as a beat cop, first. That might be a real obstacle. I might as well apply to medical school, aiming to become a neurosurgeon. The biggest problem with this area of my interest is that, even after finding a job and getting certified as a PI, I would be expected to work a significant number of hours every week. I do not want to work a significant number of hours every week. I want to work at will and pause for breaks for days or weeks or months at a time. Although, if I could get a job with a police department as a homicide detective, I would be willing to put in the extra hours. Documentaries about homicide investigations sparked my interest in that specialty. This is all fantasy, isn’t it? And I know it, right? I am just daydreaming. I do a lot of that.

About John Swinburn

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