My left shoulder is bothering me again. The cause could be a pulled muscle, over-stretched tendons, bone-against-bone chafing, simple arthritis, or one or more of dozens of other possibilities. The underlying cause does not matter, except to the extent that the cause might suggest the best approach to muting or eliminating the pain. A comprehensive examination of the most likely culprits probably would require multiple MRIs, X-rays, blood tests, electrical conductance tests, and/or many more medical investigative tools. And the investigative tools’ results would require a detailed, focused, time-consuming evaluations of the tools’ findings. The time required of doctors and other medical professionals in such evaluations simply is not available. Doctors seem to limit the time they spend with each patient to no more than fifteen minutes per visit. Without those limits, my understanding is that many patients would not be seen. The doctors would run out of time before seeing all the people who visit them, hoping at a minimum for relief from troubling symptoms. Or, better yet, a full, immediate, and permanent elimination of those symptoms. So, although I wish my aching shoulder—and every one of the other nagging pains or symptoms I experience—would be thoroughly evaluated during a several-day-long medical assessment, I am resigned to the fact that no such appraisal will take place. I must either tolerate the pain or try medications that are more powerful than aspirin or ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Tramadol, a narcotic used to treat moderate to severe pain, perhaps. I have some left-over Tramadol, which was prescribed in the aftermath of an issue involving a kidney stone. I blame Tramadol, a narcotic I took for the pain, for the suicidal thoughts and bizarre hallucinations that followed. No, now that the memory is becoming clearer, I will pass on the Tramadol. I’ll save it, along with miscellaneous other prescribed narcotics, in case I ever reach the point of needing to permanently end the excruciating pain of deep and irreversible decline. Still, I want something to eliminate, or at least soften, the painful ache. A rheumatologist told me, several months ago, the cause of my pain was “nonspecific” and most likely chronic—permanent and not subject to cure. And, unfortunately, she said the pain probably would persist, regardless of drugs I might take to lessen it. Medical marijuana gummies may help, but I am not sure, as I cannot remember whether the pain continued in the past, after consuming a gummy. Even if they work to make the pain tolerable, they also work to dramatically reduce my inhibitions and increase my silliness. Plus, driving after consuming a gummy is out of the question. Perhaps I can simply “lean into the pain,” thereby taking control of it, rather than vice versa. Meditate, instead of medicate, as it were. Something. Whatever. If I could just get my mind off my shoulder, perhaps I could train my pain receptors to effectively “sleep” through the discomfort. One thing is certain: writing about the pain does nothing but amplify and exacerbate it. So I’ll stop.


Yesterday, I’m sure for the umpteenth time, I viewed a Google map’s “layered” view of the United States and the water surrounding it. The image shows the contours of the land, as well as the ocean floor. As intriguing as are the images of the land, what truly captures my attention are the contours of the sea floor. The details of the underwater trenches, ridges, mountains, etc. are stunning. They are so detailed that I wonder about their legitimacy. Are the images of the waters surrounding us simply artificial representations of the submerged landscape? Are the ridges and valleys and long cross-hatches visual images from a graphic artist’s imagination, or are the geological/geographical images based on real data? I do not know. And I may not want to know. I think I want to retain the sense of mystery that I have always felt about the enormous bodies of water surrounding Earth’s small-by-comparison land masses. We have only a tiny inkling of what exists just three hundred feet below the surface. And our imaginations may not even be capable of creating in our minds images of what is really down there a mile and more.


I blame last night’s penne arrabiata at Dolce Vita Italian Ristorante for the dramatic spike in my blood glucose this morning—158. I should instead blame myself, of course. I knew I was behaving badly by ordering a plate of pasta, but I did not realize just how much of an effect those carbohydrates would have on my body. Adding wine and gin to the mix amplified the measurement, I am sure. This undesirable jump in the blood measurement number, coupled with the scales telling me I have gained a couple of pounds of late, gives me a clear message: it is past time to invoke my self-discipline again. And so I shall.


Phaedra is not happy at the moment. I shut the door to the laundry room, where she eats, after I fed her this morning. My reason was to give me some peace from hearing her claws scratching at the fibers of expensive rugs. Her howls inform me of her displeasure. I get no pleasure from her discomfort, but I get some serenity, some relief from worry for the rugs.


Riots in France. Another mass shooting, this one in Baltimore. Enraged Supreme Court justices. The horrors of war in Ukraine. Dangerous and potentially deadly roller coasters. Wildfires and their smoky effects across North America. Fireworks. Celebrations of “liberty” in the face of naked oppression. I know I should not read the news during the first few hours of being awake. Yet I do, sometimes, anyway. Is it a macabre fascination with turmoil around the country and the world? Is it an addiction to the idea that I must keep up with world news because…because who knows what?

It occurs to me that this country’s celebration of freedom overlooks the diminution of individuals’ power over their own lives. While we promote our freedoms, they are being chipped away at an accelerating pace. Perhaps we will not notice the effects of  accumulating restrictions on our abilities to think and do what we want. We seem readily willing to cede control over our own destinies to the will of both power-driven majorities or powerful minorities. As individuals, we are expected to align with the “proper” powers-that-be. The beauty and righteousness of community and collective efforts is being hijacked to serve the interests of power-hungry groups, which are manifestations of individualists’ plans to consolidate their powers. They make the people into puppets who think they are in control, all the while ensuring that the strings that manipulate their every deed and every thought are clear of obstacles.

Even locally, we defer decisions regarding acceptable house colors to the Property Owners’ Association (POA)—a collection of people, ostensibly elected by “us”, who subjectively determine which muted, dull, “unoffensive” paint colors are acceptable. And we do the same for the State and for the Nation. We allow people who know virtually nothing about us our our core values to incorporate their values into our systems of governance.

I suspect there one day will be a “grey revolution,” in which older people suddenly say to one another, “This is bullshit! We’re not going to allow this to happen anymore!” The revolution will fail, of course, and the country’s prisons and jails will experience a rapid infusion of geezers. They might then revolt against the younger, stronger guards. The guards will have been successfully indoctrinated into the philosophical brotherhood and sisterhood that believes in crushing dissent, especially among the old and not-so-easily led. 1984 was tame.


It’s late. I took a respite from writing, only to return here and find myself unable to coax my fingers into cooperating with me. So off I go, in search of clothing suitable for church; not a particularly challenging endeavor.

About John Swinburn

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