It’s Easy if You Try…

Finns are at the polls as I write this, casting their ballots to replace President Sauli Niinistö, who will finish his second six-year term in March and who is not eligible for reelection. Finland is one of several Scandinavian countries that have intrigued me for years. My one extremely brief (a single day) visit to Finland took place after an overnight “cruise” from Stockholm to Helsinki on a ship operated by Silja Lines. We (my late wife and I) spent the day walking around Helsinki, stopping in to visit little shops and soaking in the ambiance of what I think was a unique briskly emerging democracy that gave voice to a broad spectrum of political perspectives. From what I have read (admittedly not very much), President Niinistö seems to be a conservative who stresses that other political perspectives should be acknowledged and respected. Finland’s population, it seems, has ricocheted between left-leaning and right-leaning, with the most recent expression of political perspectives having greater right-leaning representation. Writing as a novice in matters involving the intricacies of global politics—nationally, country by country, and internationally—my thinking leans toward compromise within an unbending commitment to one’s core principles. The idea is not necessarily to make everyone happy—it is to embrace tolerance and avoid getting everyone angry. Pollyannaish; check. Naïve in the extreme; check. Back to Finland. I would happily go back, but I would want to know more about the country before I go. And I would hope, on my return, to find the wonderful root vegetable and reindeer stew the proprietor of the spot where we ate lunch encouraged to try. Helsinki was cold and a bit rainy during my one-day visit; I would like to see the city on a clear, cool day. And I would like to venture out into the countryside. The idea of having conversations with people in little Finnish villages appeals to me. I suspect more Finns speak English today than did when I was there a number of years ago.


Yesterday was a pretty good day. After waking around 5 yesterday morning, I remained awake and moderately alert until nearly 11 last night, when I gave in and quickly fell asleep. And this morning, after awaking again about 5, I feel like I might have another day like that, though I have been yawning off and on for the last hour and a half. My sister-in-law will come for coffee, as she usually does on Sunday morning. This morning, I will prepare avocados (salt and lime juice mixed with crushed avos), so the three of us can have avocado toast. The avos are ripening at the speed of light; we must eat them this morning or we will curse ourselves for letting them become unpleasantly over-ripe. After our coffee and conversation and yuppie breakfast, mi novia and I will go to church. I have not been keeping track of my church attendance, but it seems I have missed quite a lot of church in the last month or two or three. And, speaking of church, I have to prepare the agenda for Thursday afternoon’s board meeting. That holds about as much appeal right now as chewing the bark off the trunk of a big healthy oak tree. Perhaps it’s a relatively temporary state of mind…my interest in some things that, not so long ago, were fascinating has dwindled to the point of fragile tolerance.


My weight fluctuates from day to day. This morning, for example, I was up more than two pounds from yesterday. Two days ago, though, my weight reached a low I have not experienced in several years. This morning’s number is more than 29 pounds less than one year ago: January 29, 2023. I have been keeping almost daily records of my weight, blood pressure, blood oxygen, blood sugar, etc., etc. for a tad more than a year. That’s what a combination of geezerhood and age-related (and lifestyle-related) health challenges will do to  you. I can no longer legitimately claim to be of “late-middle-age.”


An occasional text or email check-in by friends keeps me connected to the world outside my window. And, of course, mi novia has driven me to doctor visits and appointments for treatments. But these contacts do not feel quite real; some of them feel downright artificial. This odd emotions makes me wonder whether the pine needles on the trees outside are made of plastic? Is the driveway just a concrete-look-carpet that has been rolled out to make fake look real? I do not really wonder, but what’s to stop the universe from fooling me into believing I am still alive and locked behind an impenetrable obstacle? Is it possible that all of us are simply tests of our bodies’ ability to successfully live and breathe in an oxygen environment…instead of the more natural hydrogen sulfide gas on which we thrive? We may be incredibly gullible. We’ve bought into the myth that we are in control of ourselves and our lives. Every move we make could be orchestrated by a being who lives in a different dimension a billion light years away…but who can step across dimensional boundaries as easily as…pie. Yes, pie. There, I’ve said it. Apple pie. Cherry pie. Peach pie. Tart green grape pie. Every one of them is powerful; they bring energy and light and boundless wisdom to people who consume them. I have it on good authority that almost all pies are imbued with stunning powers. Healing powers! Yes, pies can cure rabies, blindness, and blues. Eat one and see. You’ll want to thank me, but you will be embarrassed to have bought into my little story. A story that exists for no other reason than to manufacture and distribute lies. That is appalling. Yes it is. But so many things are.


It’s almost 7:30. How in the hell does it get so damn late so damn fast? I am amazed at the blue sky outside my window. I wonder, is it real, or has my brain been programmed to “see” a blue sky when, in reality, I am locked in a completely dark 4 foot by 4 foot box? What if? Indeed, what if? I think I’ll stop stream-of-consciousness-spilling now. Good day!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to It’s Easy if You Try…

  1. Patty Dacus says:

    Love, love this post! Big hug …

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