I’m just starting on my second cup of coffee, more than an hour and a half after I awoke. Promises I made to myself notwithstanding, I spent that time pouring over news stories on cnn.com, apnews.com, npr.org, and bbc.com. Whether my actions are guided by simple habit or by a deeper addiction I can’t say. Only after I notice how much time I have spent absorbing “news” do I realize I’ve done it again. Fortunately, I suppose, I took my blood pressure before my foray into news of the world. Unlike yesterday, today’s numbers were closer to the desirable “normal” levels. If I measured it again now, I suspect coffee and emotions would have hiked the figures considerably. But I will not check it again today. I still have yet to check blood glucose; I anticipate feeling embarrassment at what I have consumed to permit the number to go so high.


What is it, I wonder, that makes one deeply curious and more than a little emotional about events that have absolutely no direct impact on one’s life? Curiosity. Although I distinguish between curiosity and emotion, curiosity is a type of emotion. An interesting emotion, one that can be quite rewarding. Yet emotion, in the context of the question I rhetorically posed, tends not to be in the least rewarding. Instead, it tends to cause mental pain or anguish or something akin to those sensations. Odd, that.


If an orbiting SpaceX rocket—carrying paying space tourists—were to lose the ability to return to Earth from its orbit, I wonder whether the U.S. Space Command would attempt a rescue? I suspect the answer is “No,” but I might be wrong. The underlying question, of course, is: “At what point does the expenditure of money and the risk to rescuers pass the threshold beyond which a rescue would not be attempted?” Though official agencies might claim the answer is “It depends…,” I suspect U.S. agencies have established precise processes/parameters that give an unequivocal answer for the specifics of virtually every circumstance. If people want absolute assurances that every attempt will be made to rescue them, regardless of cost and risk, they should make certain their mothers are in charge of rescue and recovery.


Dawdling. That is what I have been doing. I sit here, staring at my screen, daydreaming about things completely irrelevant to my life. Traveling through outer space, beyond the edge of the Milky Way. Building a home that would withstand tornadoes, nuclear explosions, fires, earthquakes, and hundred-thousand-year floods. Intercepting and recording others’ thoughts. Experiencing the seconds and micro-seconds before death. Consciously experiencing the moments of my own birth.

Well, I suppose some of them are relevant to my life. But all of them are outside the realm of possibility. Why, I wonder, does my mind explore the impossible? Why even waste my mental energies imagining experiences that cannot happen under any conditions? I have no answers. Again. Unanswered questions are the ones most likely to propel people into the future. If we could answer all the questions, we might be horribly, frighteningly disappointed.


Time to prepare for the day. And stop dawdling.

About John Swinburn

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