The morning, thus far, has seemed almost a frenzy of activity, said activities infringing on achievement of my desired serenity. I suppose I will have to get used to the dislocation of my treasured quiet solitude; the directions given to me at my doctor’s office will squelch my tendency toward calm, slothful indolence. I am to take daily, early-morning blood glucose readings, check my blood pressure and blood oxygen saturation, breathe in the healing fog from a nebulizer, devour a handful of pills (the number of which increased by one after yesterday’s visit with the nurse practitioner), walk (at an early hour, walking will be restricted to some time on the treadmill), and probably a few more rituals intended to improve my health and prolong my life. Despite their intent to improve my lot in life, these rites have succeeded, so far, in making me feel old and infirm. And why should I not feel old and infirm? I am 69 years old. I have behaved, for much of my life, as if my body could be mistreated or ignored, with no consequences. The chickens I freed long, long ago have come home to roost; if I insist on continuing to behave as if I am physically and mentally invincible, I will reap my just, but unpleasant rewards. The choice is mine to make: live within the strictures of  relatively rigid self-care. No longer am I in fine fettle; if I am to retrieve a semblance of the fineness of my fettle, I must adjust my habits. And so I will. I hope. Oh, I will, but whether I can persuade myself to transform newly-acquired good habits into permanent behaviors will be the test. And the measure of my comfort and longevity.


Finally, a Speaker of the House has been elected. I fear the process has done irreparable damage to an already badly faltering institution. But I tend to agree with Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur, who was profiled in an online article on CNN.com this morning, that the institution has other troubles. She has urged the Democratic party “to wake up to the plight of ‘industrial and agricultural America,’ lest that important segment of the population throw their full-throated support behind the Republican party (even though, in my view, Republican policies treat that segment as if it were simply an expendable means of achieving the party’s desired objectives).

For quite some time, until three or four years ago, I laughed off the idea that the Democratic party paid little attention to the circumstances of middle America, and that it was almost exclusively representative of coastal elites. But I have changed my perspective. Though my wants and needs and preferences in almost all areas of my life mirror those of the coastal elites, I believe the legitimate needs of middle America has been largely ignored by both major parties. And I think my long-held implicit insistence that the soul of the nation be molded into a likeness of my image is unreasonable. And dangerous to democracy. Everyone’s perspectives deserve equal consideration. Even the people I consider deviant right-wingers deserve to be heard. More importantly, they deserve evidence that they have been heard and that their viewpoints have been given more than cursory consideration. I doubt that evidence will be forthcoming from either party, because the parties have morphed into machines whose only functions are to protect themselves and to fight to ensure their superiority over their adversaries; their constituencies be damned. What an unpleasant realization. Although the January 6, 2021 insurrection was an abomination, perhaps a different sort of insurrection, fueled by the rage of the vast, unheard massive moderate middle, could awaken what is missing in most of the members of Congress: a sense of obligation to serve their constituents and their country.


The morning is grey and still. Rain is in the forecast. Weather is one of the eternal forces over which we have little control. Perhaps we should not try to control the weather, paying attention, instead, to our own humanity.


There is wisdom hidden in the reflection of ourselves in the mirror. Our opposites. We look in the mirror and think we see ourselves. In fact, we see only the surface of someone else. If we look deeply, though, we can see beyond who we are and who is reflected in the glass. We should pay heed to him or her. There’s wisdom back there, if only we would probe for it with our minds.

About John Swinburn

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