Into the Deepness

Yesterday, I dozed—off and on—instead of accomplishing much of value. While I had plenty of sleep the night before, I felt mentally exhausted. Mental exhaustion sometimes is inexplicable to me; I have no idea what brings it on. Perhaps the ruminations that gave way to my blog post yesterday give rise to mental fatigue. Maybe, with enough unproductive contemplation, the brain simply runs out of steam and insists on rest.

Last night, I got six solid hours of sleep. But, when I awoke just before four this morning, I felt like I was midway between terribly tired and “wired.” Rather than try to go back to sleep, which I think I easily could have done, I got up and promptly started thinking about yesterday’s exhaustion. And hoping it fails to catch hold again today. Then, again, maybe a day or two of experiencing utter laziness, time spent in an utterly do-nothing mood, might be just the fuel I need to get back to full speed again.

Yet it may not be mental exhaustion that I’m experiencing. It may be stress, manifesting in ways with which I’m unfamiliar or simply haven’t recognized. I learned yesterday that the brother closest in age to me was delivered to the ER yesterday by my niece; my brother had been experiencing severe difficulty breathing. Later in the day, I learned that he was admitted and had been on oxygen for much of the day; but aside from some of the actions taken by medical professionals, I know nothing of his condition. That kind of information can cause stress. And stress can manifest itself in fatigue or tiredness…or any number of other ways. I’m just thinking with my fingers here. I know nothing; I’m just speculating about cause and effect without any substantive information to go on. I would call my brother, except that I know from another brother that my hospitalized sibling has been trying to sleep (after days of not getting much sleep), only to be wakened by people drawing blood, taking blood pressure, and otherwise intruding on opportunities for peaceful relaxation.


I spent a little time yesterday crafting a meal plan for the week. Whether I stick to it remains to be seen. But at least I know I’ll have the ingredients I’ll need; between seven and eight this morning, I will pick up the online grocery order I placed yesterday. Assuming I do not run out of energy or inclination before it’s time to make dinner, tonight’s meal will include salmon, green beans, and a green salad. If I had been thinking, I would have bought miso (assuming it’s available from the store where I placed my order) and a few more limes. Oven-baked salmon with a lime-miso dressing  is wonderful. Maybe I have some miso hidden deep in the bowels of my refrigerator. If so, I’ll follow this recipe, more or less:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 tbsp. miso paste
  • 18 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Later in the week, after another trip to the grocery store to buy ingredients I failed to order, I’ll make a grand and glorious Greek salad for dinner. Greek salads—flavored with calamata olives and feta cheese and lemon juice and herbs and spices and a host of salad veggies—are among the simple pleasures in life. For some reason, Greek salads seem to call out for nice, simple wines. I would go with a sauvignon blanc, but a quick Google search suggests Assyrtiko, a wine with which I am completely unfamiliar (but Google verifies my selection of sauvignon blanc, I’m happy to say). However, the wine may be more than a tad out of my usual price range; a quick scan of prices online suggests $25+ per bottle, which is a price range I reserve for extremely special occasions. Being frugal is what has allowed me to do things like retire seven years earlier than “normal” retirement age. Yet, still, I enjoy little luxuries; just not on a frequent basis. The infrequency of those luxuries helps keep them in the realm of “special.” I think I’m drifting into philosophies that successfully merge pleasure-seeking with economic reality. Long ago, I determined that they are philosophies worth making my own, which I have done.


A little later this morning, I will attempt to contact the insurance carrier for the guy whose truck did a bit of ugliness to my parked vehicle. I hope to get that squared away very soon, so I can take my car in to have body work done to repair the damage. At the same time, I want to visit the new Costco in Little Rock, where I will refrain from spending all of my money on things I want but do not need. Just some of my money on things I want but do not need. And, while I’m there, I hope I can place an order for new eye glasses, frames and all.

But before my trip to Little Rock, I have a phone appointment with a tax advisor about—what else?—taxes. When I finally file my 2020 tax returns, both Federal and State, I will celebrate by doing a little jig and opening a celebratory bottle of sparkling wine. First, of course, I must buy the sparkling wine.

After these near-term to-do list items are complete, I have other stuff on my agenda, including a pair of CT scans to (we wish for but do not hold out much hope for) determine the cause of my constant nasal congestion, cough, etc., etc., etc. Then, a visit with an ENT doctor to follow up on the CT scan results. Then, a bit later in October, a second-stage phase of the sleep study I started some time ago; this time, fitting me with a CPAP machine to see if that might improve my sleep (assuming I can stomach being encapsulated in a plastic hood over my mouth and nose). But in between these things, my IC and I plan another road trip, as I mentioned a day or two ago. Whether we go to Las Cruces, New Mexico or Fayetteville, Arkansas or other places as yet undetermined remains to be seen. I still want to go to Schenectady, New York and Dayton, Ohio, and Berkeley, California, and Halifax, Nova Scotia and a thousand other places. But medical appointments and weather concerns and a million other troublesome obstacles keep getting in my way. Life is too short to let insignificant challenges spoil adventure.


Being in a relationship is both freeing and confining. It is freeing in that the parts of oneself that can be revealed only in the presence of a suitable personality are released, creating a sense of joy and appreciation and wonder. It is confining, on the other hand, in that decisions that once were solely the province of oneself must now be strained through the wants and needs and desires and availability of another person.

Last night—during what seemed like interminable commercials while attempting to watch Homeland on Hulu—it occurred to me that I am no longer free to just decide on the spur of the moment to drive to Halifax. And that constriction bothered me. But it occurred to me, as well, that I had that freedom for five months and did nothing with it; I did not even venture outside a fifty-mile radius around the Village. So, is it the reality of personal freedom or only its potential that is most attractive? Why, when I was actually free to do what I wished, did I stay firmly ensconced in my castle; yet now that I have a partner with whom I feel obligated to share decision-making, I feel limited in my ability to act on a whim?

Do other people explore their own psyches as deeply as I seem to try to explore mine? Do others feel drawn to know why they behave the way they do or why they think what they think? Is the intensity of my interest in knowing what drives my passions aberrant? Maybe I should return to visit a counselor, in an attempt to understand me. Because I know I can’t do it by myself. I have tried and failed for far too long to think I will ever be able to figure it out on my own. But what if I knew? Then what? What would it change about me? Would knowing more about myself make me more appealing? More tolerable? More interesting? Would the absence of that mystery make life a little too dull? Too predictable?

The thing is, too, all these mysteries about myself are amplified in number and scope in the people around me. I know so very little about what’s in their minds. Superficial conversations reveal almost nothing about people. Only through exploration—deep, intensive, no-holds-barred exploration—can we know enough about one another to know whether we belong on the same planet. We can think we know enough, but when we realize how little we actually know, it can be stunning in its superficiality. Of course, that’s true of ourselves, too.

My IC and I, fortunately, reveal a lot about ourselves to one another. But even that does not get to the core of each of us; it’s the same with others. I’m sure of it. Someone—I don’t recall who, even if I ever knew it—once said we would not care what others think of us if only we knew how little they actually thought about us. And I’m sure that’s true. People I might think or assume or hope would think positively about me may never think of me at all. I wonder how many—or how few—women have been romantically attracted to me during the course of my life. Does anyone else ever think such thoughts? I have had a few conversations about that question over the years and, invariably, the response has been something like this: “No. And it doesn’t matter. What matters is who you actually had a romantic relationship with, not who thought about it.”  And my unspoken reply: “You just don’t get it. And I can’t explain it to you in a way that you would.” I’m right about that. I can’t explain my interest in knowing the answer; only that knowing the answer might help me better understand myself.  Hmm. Another of the million questions that will forever clog my brain.


Where do all the ideas in one’s head go when one dies? Does the energy that creates and stores those ideas simply dissipate, causing the ideas to dissolve into disconnected elements that only physicists might be able to explain? Do they remain complete thoughts in the atmosphere that, through random chance, slip into the brains of other people, becoming their thoughts instead of the originator’s ideas? I don’t expect an answer, of course. I’m just rambling incoherently, asking the universe questions it is unwilling to answer.

I’ve run out of juice. I need more coffee before it’s time for me to go fetch my groceries in an hour or so. Between now and then I’ll keep thinking. But those thoughts will not find their way here. They will be lost once I’ve let them spill into the universe without a keyboard to catch them.

About John Swinburn

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