I Hear an Echo of My Fantasy

Some of my fantasies are so crisp and clear I almost can feel myself brushing against the skin of a person’s hand as I pass her on my walk along the water. I can feel and smell ocean breezes. I can hear the sounds of seagulls. The cacophony of bells and horns from boats in the harbor sends chaotic, but gentle, reminders that I am in a seaside community that relies on the water for its identity and its atmosphere of quiet contentment. The smell of the ocean fills my nostrils. I glance at  colorful little houses as I walk along narrow streets. I pinch myself to see whether these sensations are real, only to discover they are not. They are the physical manifestations of desire—transformations of fanciful wishes into experiential conjecture.  I am not wandering the streets of Port Townsend and Sequim and Port Angeles. I am not stopping to soak up the natural beauty of Miller Peninsula State Park. No, I am sitting at my desk, exploring real places that exist only in my fantasies. I should have known; the sensations were crisp and clear, but also vague and distant. Those memories belong to the remnants of a dream, recollections about which are fading fast. I don’t want to lose those synthetic experiences, those artificial physical manifestations of desire; they were too enchanting, too beguiling to let slip away. But they go, in spite of my protestations. Their sharpness morphs into ill-defined images, blurred just enough to make me realize they were the products of my imagination, yet sufficiently embedded in my psyche to make me wonder; was I really there, somehow? Was I transported, in some mystical way, to a place where I have never been, but where I belong? Longing. Delusion. Desire. Imagination. Reverie. Wishes. It’s all part of living vicariously through one’s own fantasies. Where, I wonder, do I belong? Does anyone really “belong” in a place? Or do we fool ourselves into believing there is a place for us? Or, perhaps, we might find there is no place for us. Or is every place waiting for us to adapt to it? Should we simply accept that fantasy is simply an escape from where we are that takes us to a place we think we want to be?


It is 5:06, more than two and  a half hours after I awoke and got out of bed at an entirely unreasonable hour. Once again, I thought the clock told me the time was 4:30 when I got out of bed and put on my morning leisure clothes; only after I was dressed and had started on my coffee did I bother to look at the clock again. This time while I was wearing glasses. The time: 2:40 a.m. Crap! I hate when I do that. I feel so certain it is considerably later, only to discover my mistake. By then, it’s too late to try to recover and go back to sleep. So, I read the news online. The news from downtown Dallas, Texas is bad: severe flooding overnight on downtown streets and highways/freeways. I wonder whether it’s coming our way? The forecast calls for rain, but does not tell us to prepare for an epic deluge. We shall see.


Global society today is enmeshed, by and large, in a flood of information that suggests we should eat “natural” foods, which many say will make us healthier and increase our lifespan. Let me be the Devil’s advocate (which means, of course, that I will advocate on behalf of the Devil) and take issue with that assertion. I’ll start by asking what is “natural?” Thirty-thousand years ago, human life expectancy reached about 30 years. “Life expectancy” is  the average lifespan of an entire population, taking into account all mortality figures for that specific group of people. Lifespan is a measure of the actual length of an individual’s life. The two can be dramatically different. So, in the context of human existence 30,000 years ago, “normal” life expectancy was less than half of today’s 72-plus years, worldwide. Now, let me ask another question: what constituted the average human’s diet, 30,000 years ago? Did the average cave dweller eschew meat, avoid oils of all kinds, and otherwise eat like a modern-day health-nut? Probably not. Her diet consisted of available foods; not necessarily desired foods—available foods. Her diet and her lifestyle were dictated by her circumstances. Life expectancy varies in accordance with the contexts in which one’s life is played out. Who is to say that “natural” foods are not high in saturated fats, cholesterol, and various other ingredients that we have decided to label poison? Cavegirl probably did not give a damn about how many calories she consumed when she ate an apple…or the flesh of an antelope. Whatever she ate was natural because she and her fellow cavepeople had not evolved to the point that they could insist on eating non-GMO corn and grass-fed beef (though, admittedly, if she ate beef, it was in all probability grass-fed). Natural foods today may bear little or no resemblance to natural foods of three hundred years ago or thirty thousand years ago. Devils’ advocate be damned, though; I ask myself if I wanted to live to the ripe old age of 40 (at which point I might have died of some sort of diet-triggered disease) or, instead, live to 105 by watching my diet closely. I waffle back and forth, looking for a place to set anchor; it’s not there. Regardless, I will allow myself to drift back to the point of sneering at health-nuts, while secretly adopting some of their practices as my own.


Enough of this. Today, I go in for an echocardiogram. According to heart.org, an echo (as it is called), “uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart’s chambers, valves, walls and the blood vessels (aorta, arteries, veins) attached to your heart.” I wonder whether they will give me a print of the picture, something I can hang in my office as art? We shall see.

About John Swinburn

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