Temperatures should hover between the upper sixties and the lower-to-mid-seventies through Friday. In spite of the rain and accompanying high humidity, this feels close to ideal to me.

If money (or the insufficiency thereof) posed no limits on me, I would seek out a place where temperatures year-round were close to what I am experiencing this week; I would build my home there, surrounded by vast empty acreage and an impenetrable wall or fence.  I would pay people to shop for me and bring me what I want and need.

That “ideal” is selfish. It ignores the needs of people who might be ejected from the land I commandeer. It is lunacy to think a wall or a fence would keep out the “riff-raff.” It is shameful for the term “riff-raff” to spill from my mind through my fingers and onto the keyboard. It is embarrassing even to conceive of selfish desire for privacy, isolation, and self-imposed seclusion—one that might overtake my sense of what is right and just and proper. But the fact is, selfishness exists. It exists in me. I should not want what I cannot—and perhaps should not—have. But what “should be” and what “is” often are very different. That discrepancy accounts for the injustice and pain prevalent throughout our planet.

Yet who are we to decide what “should” or “should not” take place in the world? We tend to make assertions as if they were pronouncements from a supreme power, ourselves, who is the arbiter of what’s right and wrong. But we are simply instruments of the natural order; we possess no special place in the hierarchy of life that gives us the exclusive right to make pronouncements about what is or is not just. Their languages and brain processes differ from ours, but the gazelles and the cheetahs in the savannahs of Africa might have valid, but very different, views on the justice of the predator/prey relationship. We argue forcefully against allowing animals to starve from neglect, but we meekly buy steaks from the butcher, taking care not to inquire about the treatment of the animal that supplied the beef.

Somehow—in their customs or beliefs or wisdom acquired through experience—the indigenous peoples around the world have managed to find a place of balance between good and bad, predator and prey, and desire and gratitude. The tension I have always felt, between living with and incorporating within me those concepts, seems to have been eased long ago. I think the society in which I live is responsible for that tension in me. There are no universally accepted “truths” to guide people in our society. Instead, for direction we rely heavily on competing religions, governmental rules and regulations, and sometimes warped familial traditions.  I suppose conflicts between societies and their unique “truths” have always existed, but acceptance of all the layers of ecstasy and pain was a part of the ancient traditions. And the core reality that all creatures rely upon, and should revere, the world around them has been a constant for millennia. Humankind has broken that core reality into fragments, grinding some of the pieces into dust and shaping others into knives.


Facts overwhelm wishes and dreams. We confront the reality that people do not always share their wishes and dreams. Sometimes wishes and dreams are merely fantasies. Reality carves desire into long, pliable ribbons that can be woven into ropes that, in turn, either bind us to an impossible future or tie us to a harrowing past.

I often “think aloud” with my fingers, as I have done in the paragraph above. These little thought bubbles do not necessarily have any connection to my reality; only to my imagination. I suppose my “thinking aloud” can be dramatic—sometimes elaborately so. Drama, though, can emphasize the impacts that ideas and emotions can have on us; so, it is not always superfluous. It can be informative, insightful…educational.


It’s just a tad past 5:30. I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and then shower and shave. I have a doctor’s appointment early this morning…in just about three hours. Between now and then, I should be able to clean my body, make my teeth sparkle, sort my thoughts, and have a satisfying breakfast. “Should” is the operative concept here. Off I go to tackle the dissonance between wishing for something and actually doing it.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Dissonance

  1. Yes, David. The answers are there, if only we would accept them. And if only we would learn from them.

  2. davidlegan says:

    I suspect that the answers to many of the implicit questions raised by this blog cn be found in The Tragedy of the Commons.

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