Mind Reading

An experiment: Place a freshly-sawn two-hundred-pound piece of an oak tree trunk on the granite floor of a well-constructed stone building. Place a newly-dead corpse of a two-hundred-pound human next to the hunk of wood. Finally, place a two-hundred-pound sack of new-cut grass next to the other items. Seal the room—tightly—and leave it for two hundred years. Upon re-entering the room two hundred years later, which of the three items would most closely resemble the appearance it had when left in the room? I do not know with certainty, but my guess is that the hunk of oak would remain largely as it was when it was left. The other two? I suspect the human body would have deteriorated considerably, its store of water largely absorbed into the room’s air. The sack of grass clippings leaves me stumped. Perhaps they would have withered, but would the blades of grass retain their shape, albeit with considerably less volume? I don’t know. And I do not have the time to find out. But my curiosity remains. If I am right about the varying degrees of decline and decay, today’s forests are poised to outlast today’s human population; assuming humans do not burn them, pave over them, or otherwise decimate the natural world in which we live. But we know we already are doing just that. Any prediction as to what the world will look like in two hundred years is no more than vapor, changeable at the whim of nature or the destructive tendencies of humankind. Still, if we were to leave everything to decompose at its own pace, without external influence, how would the world look? It’s too bad we cannot come back and have a look. All we can do is imagine and wonder.


I have never understood why some people are so thoroughly fascinated by jewelry. The appearance of cut diamonds of varying carets are interesting to me—briefly—but they do not hold me in rapt awe at their overwhelming beauty. Because their beauty does not overwhelm me. I prefer to look at oil paintings created by people who possess extraordinary talents. I would rather spend my time gazing at sunsets and mountains and valleys etched deep into solid rock by the flow of water over millions of years. My interests, though, are not “correct.” They are simply mine. And people who love the look of diamonds have their own unique and—to my way of looking at the world—somewhat deranged perspectives. There was a time when I found the intense fondness for jewelry a bit annoying; I do not know why. Now, though, it does not bother me; it just perplexes me. That having been said, I have been won over by certain pieces of jewelry. For reasons I cannot understand, I find certain pieces of jewelry quite beautiful or, at least, extremely interesting and attractive. But diamonds? Meh, pretty much. Except for the occasional diamond whose sparkles captivate me. I would not wear it on my finger or dangling from my ear, though. Probably.


The rumble of thunder is not what woke me this morning. It was the meowing of Phaedra. If I am not up before 5:30 (I usually am), she announces my lethargy to anyone who will listen. Her point is not to shame me, I am sure, but to encourage me to get up and serve her breakfast. This morning, she roused me from a rather horrid dream in which I was lost in a filthy slum-like environment. I was trying to find my way out, but I had no idea where I was trying to go. And it was pitch-dark; the only lights came from cars’ headlights, which shone only briefly before leaving me blind and feeling my way around. I was surrounded by people who either did not or would not speak a language I could understand. Many of the people in my proximity threatened me. Or, at least, I felt threatened by them, whether they intended to threaten me or not. I was glad to wake up. Three hours earlier, I was awake for at least half an hour and probably closer to an hour. Then, I wanted desperately to get back to sleep. But sleep, when it came, was ugly and stressful. I suspect I will find a reason to drift off to sleep sometime during the day today. Or early this evening. Thunder can lull me to sleep. I might consider allowing it to do just that, right now. Probably not, though.


If you could read my mind this morning…I would urge that you maintain my thoughts in absolute secrecy. They would have to be kept in the most strict confidence, just between you and me…


About John Swinburn

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