It happens more frequently now than it did ten years ago. Ten years ago, it would occur every three or four months and last for, maybe, two or three days. Then, I could return to “normal” for another few months.

I don’t know whether I have changed or the world to which I am responding has changed. Maybe both. Whatever the cause, it happens more often now. “It” is a deep longing shed all connections with society and its ills. I’m not referring to society in the generic sense here; I’m referring to everyone outside my microscopic sphere. I want to be alone with my tiny tribe, cut off from the macabre world in which every topic foments debate among rabid people foaming at the mouth to attack their adversaries. I want to cut the ties that bind me to people (like me) who rage and rail against perceived injustices that, examined closely without political or personal self-interest in the mix, should matter to no one. I want, or need, to sever the connections that allow me to feed myself a steady diet of trivial and not-so-trivial information that turns my brain into a pressure cooker filled with steam and nails.

Ten years ago, the instances of feeling the desire to detach from the world seemed to be less critical. They seemed mostly desires, rather than needs. Today, they’re not only more frequent, they’re more important, at least they feel more important, as if failing to disconnect with the world might have the effect of blowing a circuit.

Fortunately, my personal forms of meditation, if that’s what they are, enable me to withdraw for just a while. Ideally, though, I’d take a few days—maybe a week—in a remote place, a place with cool nights and clear, dark skies where I could see the Milky Way, to relax and decompress. No phone, no internet, no television, no radio. A place without the world as I know it intruding on my thoughts.

I don’t want to know which presidential candidate said what. I have no need to know that a mother’s breakdown led her to kill her children. I don’t want to know how a drug lord escaped or was allowed to walk away from a prison. I don’t want to hear or participate in arguments about whether humankind will perish when the ice caps melt or when terrorists launch nuclear attacks.

Peace. I just want to think about and talk about and participate in peace and peacefulness. I want to think about and hear about and feel love, to let the concept roll around in my head enough, to give thoughts about it enough time, to actually understand and appreciate it.

I miss my youth. I miss being overwhelmed at the beauty of sunrise after fishing all night long from a pier on Corpus Christi Bay. I miss wading and shrimping and fishing in those waters, when the odors of salt water and fish and petroleum distillates from nearby refineries all seemed natural. Those memories flood my brain when I feel the need to escape the crush of the world I live in. I get homesick for a home that’s long since gone, a place I can’t visit because it’s not the place I need, it’s the time I spent there, the experiences I felt there.

I’m afraid a road trip to the Texas coast would just add to the sense of loss and longing I feel when I am overwhelmed by the world around me and want to get away.  A night in the desert might do it, or maybe a lifetime on an island.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Longing

  1. Thank you, sir. That is, indeed, the sort of solitude and access to the universe beyond that I’m after.

  2. Jim Hawarden says:

    I recommend a weekend in Terlingua, Texas sir. They have a population of 58 when it’s not chili Cookoff weekend and, while I was there in October a number of years ago, I saw the clearest skies I have ever seen. I think you’ll find the solitude and renewal you’re looking for, without the salt air that would give you the feeling of Homesickness…

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