Years ago, I applied for a job based in Zanesville, Ohio. The job sounded both interesting and extremely challenging—had I been offered the job, I would have had to decide whether I could successfully manage a large trade show despite having never managed one before. I was prepared to say “yes,” I could do it. But I was not offered a job. In fact, I was not invited to Zanesville for an interview.  Anticipating that I would be asked to come in, though, I explored a bit about Zanesville. The internet was not as readily available nor was it the vast store of information it is today, but it gave me clues about the town. I learned that the population of the town was roughly twenty-five thousand. The Muskingum River flows through the heart of the town. From all I could tell, the town and the surrounding areas were attractive. I learned enough about the town that I wanted to go see it. Even before I learned I was not selected to be interviewed, I was ready to relocate. Something about the place appealed to me. Alas, the expected invitation never came. I would not be offered a job with Offinger Management Company. Oh, well.

Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.

~ Saul Bellow ~

This morning, I looked for information about the company. Though I found many links to information about Offinger Management Company, the one that struck me was the one that claimed the company was “permanently closed.” Could that be? Its website cannot be reached. The Google map listing claims it is permanently closed. At 6:25 this morning, I called the phone number listed on the Google map summary of the company (+1-740-452-4541), only to learn that the number is not in service. I do not know what happened to Offinger Management Company. Perhaps it was the same thing that happened to Challenge Management, Inc.—the owner and founder lost interest in the business and most of the people the business served. When I closed Challenge Management, I hoped to stay in touch with some of the people involved with the associations I managed. And I have, although to a much-reduced extent compared to what I envisioned.

Back to Zanesville, though. I’m curious about the town. It is located roughly halfway between Columbus, Ohio and Wheeling, West Virginia; an hour by car to either place. I have been to both municipalities and found them interesting. Wheeling is only an hour away from Pittsburgh; so Zanesville is only about a two-hour drive to Pittsburgh. As I glance at the Google map, my eyes pause as they see Toledo and Detroit and Dayton and Cincinnati, all places I have been, at least briefly. I spent several days in the hospital in Toledo in 1989 or 1990, where I had emergency surgery for what the doctors thought was appendicitis. The pain, as it turned out, was caused by a severe flare-up of Crohn’s disease; the surgeon removed a substantial length of damaged, inflamed intestine. My first major surgery. I’ve always wanted to go back to Toledo, just to look around. Since my hospital stay, I have been back to the area; I spent time in Perrysburg, a suburb southwest of Toledo. It was a business trip, like almost all my travel has been. Now, though, I’d like to travel without obligations and commitments and other things that might distract me from the pleasure of experiencing a new place and new people.

Memories bubble to the surface in response to such minor, accidental recollections. I would like to visit Zanesville. And all along the shores of Lake Eerie. And I’d like to take a train from Sault Ste. Marie north to Hearst. I think that’s the train my late wife and I took during our circle tour around some of the Great Lakes in the late 1980s. We may have stayed overnight in Hearst or, if the train was running to Wawa then, we may have stayed there. In either case, the overnight was in a French-speaking village in Ontario. I would like to do it again. This time, I would write about it. Memorialize it so that, someday, someone might stumble across my blog and find it sufficiently interesting to read about a Canadian rail adventure. God, I could go on for days, resurrecting fragments of past experiences that I should have captured on film or in words. Or both. Now, I have to rely on memories that may not even be mine; they may be snapshots of memories taken through someone else’s eyes and delivered to me as though they were mine. Hmm. What, I wonder, belongs to me, alone, and what is simply a shared recollection triggered by a word or an image online? Hard to tell.


Most people I know avoid angry confrontations when they can. Anger tends to overwhelm our protective defenses against speaking words that should not be spoken, so people try to tend to try to soften anger with understanding. Understanding the genesis of anger helps to lessen its grip. But circumstances can be too unstable for understanding; circumstances sometimes trigger responses over which we have little emotional control.

Perhaps anger simply erases or, at least, dramatically reduces our inhibitions. Regardless of the process, avoiding angry confrontations is preferable to indulging the “high” that accompanies unchecked rage. Yet, from time to time, even the most even-keeled, in-control, gentlest, and most reserved people erupt in fury, steeped in bitter indignation. When that occurs—when these normally calm, even-tempered people respond with uncharacteristic ferocity—the post-eruption emotion is deep embarrassment. Even more than embarrassment, they feel enormous regret that their behavior may have done permanent damage to otherwise strong relationships.

Five enemies of peace inhabit with us – avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.

~ Petrarch ~

Collateral damage can be a casualty of blind, unrestrained anger; especially when the rage displayed by one person ignites an equal measure of reactive animosity in another. An almost unbreakable bond can disintegrate like a solid brick wall struck by a cannon-ball; every brick shattered in so many pieces the wall cannot be rebuilt without an ample supply of bricks and freshly-mixed mortar.

Such angry confrontations are, fortunately, rare. But when they occur, they can drench  peace, tranquility, and serenity in the equivalent of gasoline and, then, strike a match. The resulting conflagration leaves scorched earth, blackened forests, and empty landscapes where, before, there were fertile fields, thriving green woodlands, and stunning vistas.

When we talk of anger, we speak of another emotion, fear, dressed in different robes. Anger is born of terror; terror that an irrevocable change in circumstance may be taking place. Anger is the response to that dread. The sooner we understand the origin of anger, the quicker we overcome it. But unless we overcome anger before it explodes, it will forever alter our emotional landscape.


Well, this post certainly has taken on a life of its own. I thought I might jot down a brief paragraph and be done with the day’s blog post. But, no! I had to open the floodgates, allowing the release of what should be a gushing river but, instead, is only a trickle. I’ve not written about all this morning’s memories; some of them are so precious or so painful that my eyes brim and my fingers freeze on the keyboard. I do this to myself. I suppose I deserve it; otherwise, why do I keep dredging up memories that, on the one hand, are delightful and on the other are as sharp and as dangerous as a razor.  It’s nearly 7:15, much later than I had hoped to have finish writing my blog post. Too often, I go past the limits I set for myself. That, alone, is enough…


About John Swinburn

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

  1. David, depending on my mood and the color of the shirt I’m wearing, I might disagree with MYSELF about anger. There are times when anger is a cleansing emotion that leaves one feeling fresh and powerful. Other times, its remains are like acrid smoke with a wretched stench that cuts off the air supply. And we share very similar taste in singers/songwriters. Bill Morrrissey’s lyrics are outstanding. His style is very similar to Greg Brown, one of my favorite lyricists. Both of them are superb story-tellers who understand human suffering as well as anyone. As to significance, or the lack thereof, I am with you.

  2. davidlegan says:

    Well, I disagree with you about anger…but that’s another response. THIS response is about the quote from Saul Bellow. My favorite songwriter OUGHT to be Jackson Browne or James Taylor or Mary Chapin Carpenter. But no. My favorite songwriter is the late Bill Morrissey, a flawed Vermont folk singer. And about the subject of reduction to insignificance, he wrote Ice Fishing. It scurries along, unthreatening, until the last verse, then stabs you in your soon to be insignificant heart:
    There ain’t much to millwork
    The days just go on and on
    And there ain’t much to leaving home
    ‘Til you finally cut the cord and know you’re gone

    And there ain’t much to ice fishing
    ‘Til you miss a day or more
    And the hole you cut freezes over
    And it’s like you have never been there before.

    We are all insignificant, and some folks have a big problem with that. If we wanted to get REALLY HEAVY about religion, I’d probably say that it is man’s search for significance. And this is a search doomed to failure.

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