Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.

~ Marcus Aurelius ~

I referenced these words, attributed to Marcus Aurelius, in late December, 2021, after my late brother decided to go into hospice care.  About a year earlier, my wife had died. And a little over a year and a month after that awful event, my brother died. That year of loss was the most wretched in my memory. But, in response to the words of Marcus Aurelius, I have tried to pry open those windows. Whether a person opts to wither in darkness or blossom in light, in the end he will return to the soil.


Guilt coincides with the recognition of the impossibility of changing the past. But it persists as long as does the desire to accomplish the impossible. Perhaps, then, the solution to reducing the many burdens of guilt is to quell the desire to accomplish that which cannot be done. That is, to face reality and to acknowledge one’s own responsibility for fashioning the future from fresh experiences; not eliminating guilt, but burying it beneath multiple layers of innocence.


Phaedra is back home from the veterinary clinic, no longer pregnant nor capable of  becoming pregnant ever again. The poor cat, wrapped in a surgery suit to prevent her from ripping open sutures, remains groggy and obviously achy. And, surprisingly (to me, at least), not very hungry. Perhaps that is a natural reaction to surgery. Despite my annoyance at her for doing damage by clawing at rugs, she is a cute cat; I hope I continue to think so as time marches on.


Thanks to indulging in a gummy last night (to ease my arthritic pain), I slept very, very late this morning. I was in bed until after 7, an event so rare it merits placement in a world record book. I loathe getting up long after the sun has flooded the sky with light. There’s something about missing daybreak that is akin to getting kicked, hard, in the gut. But I will adjust, adapt, and move on. The sky is clear and blue, utterly unlike yesterday afternoon’s swirling gloom and ferocious rainstorms. Though we were under multiple tornado watches, thunderstorm watches and warnings, and tornado warnings, none of the storms materialized near us. Little Rock and environs in central Arkansas were badly ravaged by tornadoes. Numbers of injuries were reported in Little Rock hospitals; some of those suffering injury were in critical condition yesterday. The town of Wynne was effectively torn in two by tornadoes that reportedly killed four people there. My dissatisfaction with sleeping late pales—utterly, to the point of disappearance—in light of that awful reality.

As I have taken to saying with regularity, everything is contextual. Every emotion, every sensation, every idea, every reality…exists along a spectrum. And that spectrum is influenced by changes in the environment surrounding it. The emotional “tragedy” of a shattered family heirloom wine decanter shrinks to insignificance in circumstances in which emotional tragedy involves multiple losses of life.

The older I get, the more intrigued I become with different schools of philosophy. And, of course, I wish now I had become intrigued with them long, long ago. I would have had much more time to learn about them, think about them, and use them to mold and shape my own philosophies. As it is, my philosophy of life is an amalgamation of sometimes competing ideas. And, of course, my philosophy changes, depending on the context of my thoughts about it. Circumstantial morality might be a good name for my current philosophical bent. I could explain the concept in more detail, but that might rob the reader of the enjoyment of guessing what I might mean.


I may not need a hug right now, but I certainly would welcome one. A hug to celebrate the way the sky looks right now. But there could be many other reasons, as well.

I must go…just got an instant message on my phone, warning me of an unusual “card not present” transaction on a credit card…must explore it!

About John Swinburn

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