I Have an 11-Year-Old Child

If you want to know more about the shocking news delivered in the title of this post, you’ll have to read on. I’m not going to make this easy for you. I have a reason for being so ornery. You never speak to me. At least not here, in public. You watch and read and make judgments about what I write, but you do not share those appraisals with me. I’m not even sure you actually visit, inasmuch as you don’t leave any evidence of your presence. I may be writing to an empty seat. Or dozens of empty seats. Seats that have gone unoccupied for years. But, then, I’ve always said this blog is for me, not for an audience. And that’s usually the reality of the matter. Occasionally, though, I wonder whether my thoughts trigger any reactions or responses. I wonder whether my words paint the picture of a committed thinker or, instead, a probably crazy thinker who should be committed.


Once again, an earth-shaking crack of thunder tears into my consciousness, followed by the rolling growl the thunderclap leaves behind.  And lightning bolts crease the sky, their ragged blue paths from cloud to earth bathing the atmosphere in a unique electric blue flash. I love early morning storms. The sounds of thunder and raindrops slamming against the roof and the windows make my heart beat faster. I feel like I belong on the planet when I soak in the experience of storms that are invisible, except when the flashes of light illuminate the dark sky, revealing for a fraction of a second the outline of dark, angry clouds above. I love to wake up to stormy weather. For some reason, I feel more alive when I get the sense that Nature is intentionally demonstrating power that far exceeds any that humans might create. There it is again: anthropomorphizing the natural world. Or am I doing just the opposite: taking on characteristics of the natural world in an effort to diminish human characteristics?


What, I wonder, is the motivation for travel? Why do people long to go exploring the world? Why are “other places” so appealing that they call on us to leave our homes in search of them? The potential responses to those questions are innumerable. That notwithstanding, I will offer two reasons people are motivated to travel: adventure or excitement and escape. The first—introducing new experiences into one’s life—is common. More common motive, though, is to escape—abandon, at least temporarily, the demands placed on us by society in general, friends and family, and finally and most crucial, ourselves. Travel gives us a temporary reprieve from the stress of who and where we are. While travel can educate and inform us about other cultures, it also can insulate us from the damage inflicted by our own culture. Travel can allow us to hide from the hideousness of our own society. We can pretend we live in a free and friendly place, even when we know that is untrue.


Shocking, I know. My only child is 11 years old. Let me clarify: my only child who still matters to me is 11. Or will be in two days time. I have long since abandoned my other children. I killed one of them, though I regretted it soon after and tried to revive him; he survived, but is in what seems to be a perpetual coma. The others are alive, but I do not give them sustenance; they are largely on their own, but stagnating, as abandoned children sometimes are. Back to the child whose birthday I will celebrate tolerate. Stop worrying; the child is not a human. He is simply a receptacle for my blather, which he stores in perpetuity in the event someone ever finds a use for the words of a mildly misfitted man.

I call him JohnSwinburn.com, as he is my namesake blog. He will be eleven years old on August 10.  He was meant to give me a place I could record my thoughts, philosophies, ideas, and stories. I wanted to infuse him with my beliefs and attitudes, as well as my hopes and dreams. Several years after his birth, I discovered I was indoctrinating him with both my good ideas and my bad habits. That fact no doubt reduces what value he might have had, but he does not care because he is not a sentient being. Some people question whether his father is a sentient being. Especially when he opts not to participate in conversations but, instead, simply watches and listens, as if he were making a mental record of the proceedings. That is precisely what he is doing—most of the time. [If you read this sentence, let me know by Tuesday, August 8, 6 pm Central, and I will commit to taking you to lunch someday soon.] Occasionally, he is simply bored or mentally exhausted. A more appropriate term might be “psychologically exhausted,” but I would verify that with a licensed psychologist before bandying it about, quite possibly sounding like an impossibly stupid impostor.


It’s not quite 6:30 yet, but time for a second cup of coffee. So, I’ll wander out onto the dark deck and listen to the thunder and watch the sky flash until sometime after the sky begins soaking in the light of the sun.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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5 Responses to I Have an 11-Year-Old Child

  1. Meg Koziar says:

    It’s interesting, how our creations do seem like children. I am curious as to whether some of my artwork, sold or given to people who have since passed away, were trashed or are hanging on some wall someplace in the world by unknown people. Happy birthday johnswinburn.com

  2. John Swinburn says:

    “Jo,” I look forward to taking you to lunch!

  3. Jo says:

    Lunch? Did someone say lunch? LOL

  4. John Swinburn says:

    Thanks. Ducky!

  5. Susan Berkley says:

    Happy birthday to your child

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