Sometimes, my habit of looking back at my blog to see what I was thinking a year ago is a mistake. Today, for example, I looked back to see what wrote on Thanksgiving, 2020. I wrote that I was making special tapas to take to my wife, whose life was slipping away while she spent another miserable day in a rehabilitation facility. That day, and more that followed, left me feeling empty and aching and wishing I could do something to change the course of history. I did not acknowledge then, though, that my wife was dying. I still hoped that she would recover form her five-month-long deterioration. Even though I did not know her end was near, I felt a sense of unease; dread, almost, that the nightmare would just drag on, with nothing suggesting we would emerge from it unscathed. Yes, it may have been a mistake to look back a year. I hope that mistake doesn’t ruin this Thanksgiving for my IC and me and for our two Thanksgiving day guests who are joining us for dinner, my late wife’s sister and our friend. I’ll figure out a way to pull out of this self-imposed tear-fest before the day begins in earnest. I do not want to experience today this way—this moment that seems to stretch on interminably as an endless sense of loss envelopes me.
My good fortune—of stumbling into a relationship with someone who fills me with such joy—will help me overcome the sadness that swept over me as I perused last November’s posts. I feel guilty, though, both for what feels like my undeserved good fortune and for bringing my sadness into her life at the same time she brings joy into mine. I wonder, more often than not, whether my grief will ever become tolerable. I know it will never leave me, but will it ever allow me to keep it locked inside me, so that it doesn’t infect people around me? Ach! I will find a way to harness the power of my grief in positive ways. I am sure many others have done it. It’s just a matter of committing to do the same and translating commitment into action.
Before I retired, I made a habit of getting up early and going for a walk—between two and four miles—ever weekday. Then, before my wife awoke, I showered and shaved in preparation for going to the office to begin my workday before my staff arrived. Since retiring, I’ve slacked off. Not only have I stopped my habit of taking long walks, I’ve almost entirely abandoned early morning showers. Nowadays, I usually wait until mid-morning or later to shower. But not this morning. I woke at around the usual time, 4:30 or so, and immediately went in to shave and shower. After I got dressed, I put a load of laundry in the washer before I made coffee. I felt so incredibly productive! But then I make the mistake of looking at old blogs… Yet I see how I might reinvigorate myself if I simply got back into an old, familiar habit. Rather than reading old blog posts, I should just launch right in to writing. Or, maybe, I could get back in the habit of early walks. But that might be a tad more difficult than it was back in Dallas; even in early morning darkness, street lights were sufficient to enable me to avoid many trips and falls. Here in the Village, the lights are fewer and less powerful. And I am older and my vision is not what it once was. But even without the walks, I could get into a new version of an old habit; up early, shower, shave, and jump into a productive exploration of what’s on my mind. I’ll give that more thought. It has potential. It has merit. I may still have the ability to launch into something energizing that might start my days with an injection of enthusiasm I’ve been lacking.
Before I began writing this morning, I skimmed emails that came in overnight. One of them struck me at once as a bit odd and rather thought-provoking. The message suggested that Bruce Lee, the actor and marshal artist, was also a philosopher. Hmm. I like the label. I’d like to adopt it for myself. John Swinburn, philosopher. It works for me. But I realize, of course, that we’re all philosophers. We all have philosophies of life that guide how we live; how we behave, how we allow the world around us to steer us in various directions. But I doubt many of us recognize that the way we think and the patterns of our thoughts are the hallmarks of philosophers. We’re all philosophers. We just do not acknowledge it. We should. We ought to consciously recognize how our thoughts move us through the course of our lives. Only by responding to our philosophies of life are we able to cope with the obstacles and opportunities the world throws at us. But, of course, I’m thinking of something a little more formal. Something I might feel comfortable putting on a business card. “Examiner of Life in a Fiercely Independent Universe.” That may be too long. And it may be the wrong approach. I’ll have to give it more thought.
Once again, I’ve allowed my coffee to get cold. I could save it and drink it over ice, later in the day. But that doesn’t sound appealing to me. When I drink iced coffee, I want freshly-brewed coffee that’s poured over ice; not luke-warm coffee that’s saved from going down the drain by dumping it in a glass full of brutally cold pieces of rock-hard water. For some reason, I just had a vision of pouring too-warm coffee into a glass that contains not only ice but pieces of uncooked salmon. What in the name of God is wrong with me? Who thinks of such miserable, unappetizing stuff at this hour of the morning? Now, even freshly-brewed coffee poured into a pristine cup sounds less than appealing.
Okay. I’m ready for Thanksgiving Day. Before I get too far into it, though, I have to finish the load of laundry. It might have finished washing by now, in which case it’s time to throw it into the dryer. I might finish the load completely before my IC awakes to take her small strange dog out for its morning constitutional. It’s actually a very nice little dog; exactly the kind of dog I have long been thinking about, except it’s a tad small, so it can’t safely hang its head out of the car window and sniff the breeze, as if it were engaged in a wonderful adventure. Stop changing the subject. Do the clothes. Write later. Maybe tomorrow.