From the Start

I have begun, again, looking longingly at RVs. I had essentially given up on the idea of an RV because I felt like I would feel especially lonely in an RV on the road, by myself, But now I have a willing partner who will gladly accompany me on RV adventures. So, I’m back on the prowl. I’m focusing my attention on a smaller drivable RV that is easy to maneuver, simple to set up, and can be ready to roll quickly. Something that can accommodate a couple of bikes (or something like them). I can feel the excitement growing in me again. Life is, indeed, a nice roller-coaster ride from time to time.


Last night, I thumbed through a Tim Ernst book that’s full of photos he took of Arkansas night skies. Though the real thing is more awe-inspiring, the Ernst book is a treasure.


Have I already posted this quote from my little book of Zen-inspired quotations? It doesn’t matter. The sentiments it expresses and the feelings I have when reading it have not changed.

I think these difficult times
have helped me to understand better
than before how infinitely rich and
beautiful life is in every way,
and that so many things
one goes around worrying about
are of no importance whatsoever.

~ Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) ~

One’s core personality must be fully understood and acknowledged before he steps onto even the safest emotional tightrope. That core—the element of oneself that defines his beliefs, guides his behavior, and establishes the degree to which he is compatible with another person—offers protection against missteps that could plunge him headfirst into the rocks below. Unless acceptable levels of compatibility with another person are assured and guaranteed, stepping onto the tightrope is enormously risky. But it is easy to assume compatibility exists, especially when connections have long been lacking. In fact, it’s not just easy to assume; it’s almost impossible to assume otherwise in such circumstances. The need for companionship is so great that even a casual misfit seems perfect and impossible to improve upon. But suddenly that fit can seem utterly incomplete and tangled, as if problems existed from the start. Which, of course, they did. They always do. Yet if partners to a powerful attraction accept the reality that “perfect” fits sometimes require the shapes of certain pieces to be forced into spaces that do not quite suit the configuration, problems can actually improve cohesion. One’s feet can be attached to the tightrope with safety netting. And, of course, the quality of the netting can be enhanced when both partners accept that allowing tensions to mold and shape certain pieces can enhance the fit.

Both the dangers of incompatibility and the beauty of readily and agreeable reshaping discordant bits and pieces are on my mind this morning. The willingness to bend and flex so the pieces fit most comfortably, especially, is on my mind. I have seen and felt that flexibility; it is a beautiful thing to behold. Perhaps most surprising to me, though, is how comfortable my own flexibility and willingness to bend feels to me. Maybe it’s not the fact of flexibility and bendability that’s so surprising, though; it’s the speed with which it has become so comfortable that has taken me a bit by surprise. I have not become another person by stretching myself to ease a fit; I think I have become a better version of the same man. I feel like I am casting off inflexible pieces of metallic armor and replacing them with adaptable sheets of protective silicone. By reshaping and reconfiguring, I feel like I am improving on the underlying person whose value I had come to question. Maybe, I think, I’m lovable after all. And, as I realize I am not alone in reshaping bits of myself, I am not at all alone in being lovable. Life can be a remarkably transformative experience.


Today would have been my late wife’s birthday. I grieve for her loss and I mourn her absence, but I feel certain she would be happy for me as I rediscover my life. The guilt I sometimes have felt in response to the development of a wonderful, but unexpected, relationship is dissipating quickly, replaced with love. I miss my wife, but I have begun to love the life that’s replacing the one I had before.


My intimate companion and I were treated to a nice afternoon involving wine and healthy hors d’oeuvres yesterday afternoon. My late wife’s sister, to whom I have grown increasingly close during the past seven years, invited us over to visit and to introduce my IC to the cat my sister-in-law calls “Junior.” We saw very little of Junior, but we marveled at my SIL’s lovely pollinator garden and at the art that adorns her walls and backyard. ’twas a glorious afternoon that followed a glorious morning. Normally, my IC would have joined her friends who swim in one of the Village lakes, but I think she sensed that I really needed time with her yesterday, so she opted to spend it with me.  I am among the luckiest people alive, I think. I hope I always am able to provide the same comforting presence for her that she provides for me.


I have begun to revisit and revise my “to-do” list. The degree of productivity I will feel as I plow through the list will be nothing short of remarkable. I feel it in my bones already.


Though I will spend part of today alone (my IC will join her swim-mates in the lake), I will relish what goes through my mind. Whether happy or sad thoughts occupy my mental space, I have someone waiting for me later in the day who will absorb me and allow me to do the same, making a perfect sphere out of a perfect sphere.

About John Swinburn

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