Finished, for Now

Hiding emotions is a practice almost all people employ. The reasons for hiding them are as varied as the emotions being hidden. Sometimes, people attempt to hide them from themselves. Secret emotions may be hidden to avoid hurting someone else: I think that pianist is far more accomplished than my friend, the piano player. Or they may hide ‘forbidden’ desires: I am drawn to her like a moth to a flame; I wish she felt the same way, but she seems firmly committed to her husband.

I suspect people in extreme emotional pain may hide their emotions to avoid the certainty of an “intervention:” Life is incredibly difficult for me and I see no way out of this pain, so I have decided to commit suicide. Emotions are complex states of mind. They should not be dismissed as fleeting responses to equally temporary moments. But neither should they consume one’s every waking hour and, then, provide structure to unpleasant dreams.

Poetry can provide an indecipherable (to everyone but oneself) outlet for hidden emotions. Poetry can hint at the emotions driving it, yet it can conceal them just enough to make those who read or hear its words unsure of the genesis of the poem. I suspect hidden emotions are among the most common triggers for poetry. Even poems that shove fierce emotions in the poetry-consumer’s face might hide underlying emotional prompts.

Despite my apparent inability to hide some emotions (as evidenced by floods of tears, on occasion), I reveal only a tiny fraction of them to anyone but myself. Rage, love, anger, disappointment, contempt, infatuation, passion, tenderness, mockery—all of them find comfortable places inside me to hide. When I lose control of my ability to contain any of them, I seem to morph into a different person. I wonder, which of the two people am I, really? I wish I knew, but I am afraid to know.

Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.

~ Allen Ginsberg ~


Last night’s dinner with friends from church was delightful. Though I call them friends, we do know really know them well, but we have wanted to know them better. The dinner helped fulfill that desire. From the moment we walked in their house, we felt relaxed and comfortable. I suppose it was their friendly, relaxed demeanor that made me feel immediately at ease. That is a rarity for me; I tend to be rather guarded when I enter new social situations. But that was not the case last night. The fact that they both seemed completely at ease and relaxed had a calming effect on me. Our conversations—at least their contributions to our discussions—were fascinating, too. As usual, I listened and observed far more than I contributed to the conversations, but unlike some situations, I did not feel even slightly out of place or uncomfortable with my relative silence. And the food was good. I hope my sense of the experience—that the evening was a success—was echoed in their assessments of our conversations. By the way, I learned that their taste in television and film is very similar to ours; their appreciation of Scandinavian crime thrillers binds us together!


Another of my occasional habits is to look back at what I wrote on “today’s date” in years past. I indulged that habit this morning as I read what I wrote seven years ago today. My post on that day was entitled, “Becoming Canadian.”  The substance of my March 19, 2016 post dealt with my desire to visit Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada. And, perhaps, to buy a house (along with the pottery business that was operated out of it). Annapolis Royal was designated the ‘most livable small town in the world’ by the U.N. in 2004.  The post included the following revelation about me: …I get restless, you know? I think, perhaps, I was born to be a vagabond, a  wanderer. Really, John? Maybe. I would like to dip my toes into that possibility, one day, and see whether a lifestyle in which “home” is more an experience than a place would suit me.


Five o’clock on a Sunday morning. Half an hour after I got up, I wrote the following paragraph. But I wrote more, later and I re-ordered my writing to better reflect my sense about the world in which I live.

During the thirty minutes since I slid out of bed, I’ve made coffee, fed a bit of canned food to a yowling cat, and read various bits and pieces of news, etc. Among the news that attracted my attention:  failed efforts to change the name of the Audubon Society in recognition that its founder was a slave owner and trader and did other “despicable things.” And, as usual, Putin grabbed headlines; today for his visit to Russian-occupied Mariupol, Ukraine. In other news: Wyoming was the first state to ban abortion pills; the immediate Past President of the United States says he expected to arrested on Tuesday; a deadly earthquake has shaken southern Ecuador and northern Peru; and other matters that are, in the overall scheme of life on Earth, irrelevant to me. I am not suggesting these headlines are irrelevant to humankind—only to me and the actions I take during the course of the day. Yet, still, I read about them and allow myself to react, both intellectually and emotionally. I need to relax my brain which, in turn, might allow the tightened muscles in my face and neck and shoulder and arms and back to loosen a bit. Okay. I will stop writing for a few moments while I light a cone of incense; perhaps it will accelerate my decompression.


I smell the aroma of the burning cone of patchouli incense. My intent in lighting it was to calm my somewhat frazzled thoughts. Whether it works will be answered over time; the next fifteen minutes or more. In the interim, I will write. I might better serve my own pursuit of serenity by delaying my usual activities; but I have a routine from which I hesitate to deviate—for reasons that are, to me, inexplicable. Oh, I do occasionally deviate from my one truly reliable routine, but when I do I feel out of sorts for a while. So I try not to wander too far from my customary morning behavior (already changed, thanks to Phaedra’s yowling meows, the purpose of which I have yet to discern).


I am ready for my second cup of coffee. The first one is almost gone, but what remains is ice cold. A fresh, hot cinnamon role would be nice, too, but my diabetes-based dietary restrictions prohibit (well, “discourage” is probably a more appropriate word) that culinary enjoyment. I could write for hours, but no one would be willing to invest the time required to read it all. So, I will call this already-too-long post “finished.”

About John Swinburn

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