Imagine watching an entire video clip, which normally would take ten minutes, in just one minute. But, instead of seeing blurred images race by at ten times actual speed, imagine that the entire video appears to take place in real-time—yet events outside the video take place occur at a much faster pace; accelerated in a ten-to-one ratio. Though such a scenario may be difficult to envision or understand, that experience plays out for me most mornings. During the ten minutes it takes me each morning to take my first round of daily pills, feed the cat, make a cup of espresso, and sit down at my computer, more than an hour and a half of the day has flown by. Whether I am dividing my experience between two dimensions of space and time or simply repeating a daily mental break, I do not know; perhaps both. This morning, darkness became full-on daylight in less time than is required to inhale and then exhale a single breath. But the clock claimed otherwise, insisting that more than an hour elapsed between breaths. At precisely the moment I want time to slow, its speed quadruples—or more—but when I want time to hurry along, it flows like thick, cold molasses. I am not ready for hours to behave as if they were seconds. Yet, seconds can tend to plod along as if they were days or weeks…when I would much rather jump past periods in which time indelibly etches certain experiences into my brain. Maybe my experience with time is entirely artificial. But I think not.


A tiny flying insect buzzes by—and then into—my ear. My hand, attempting to swat the creature into oblivion, is far too slow. The pest easily evades my attempt at insecticide. I think I hear its microvocal  laugh as it disappears into the vast emptiness of the air in my office. I had hoped, incidentally, that I had coined a fresh new neologism with microvocal. But, no, the word is not mine; others imagined it long before I decided I needed a new word to describe miniature sound the way microscopic applies to miniature size/sight. How can a person create new words when the chosen words have already been taken?  Ach, I’ve rolled off into a mental ditch again; thoughts should be subject to control through the installation of tracks to prevent distractcidents. Another futile effort at word-craft.


That damnable flying beast is at it again, this time attempting to reach my lungs through my nose. If it continues, I may turn to serious measures, such as stabbing it with an icepick. Before I attempt to take such drastic action, I will want to feel absolutely confident in my ability to stop the icepick’s movement at precisely the moment the weapon pierce’s the monster’s heart; otherwise, I might have to uncomfortably explain why I jammed an icepick up my nose or, worse, into my brain.


Two hours from now, I will visit my oncologist to hear her explain the results of my PET scan. Though I have no control over the results (and so should not be worried about them), I will admit to feel apprehensive…anxious…a tad fretful about listening to her tell me what the scan revealed and what the results suggest for further treatments. Too much of my train of thought revolves around my diagnosis. I do not want to be fixated on what is only a possibility, not a certainty. Yet I cannot seem to help thinking the news could be bad and it could suggest my previous thoughts—that any “worst case” outcome would be at some unimaginable time in the future—may have been overly optimistic. But I will try to think positive; I have far too much on my agenda to let such obstacles take control of my optimism. And, again, worrying about things over which I have little or no control is a waste of time, energy, and emotion. Instead, I’ll make it my mission to enjoy all the moments I can.


Later today, I will preside over my last church board meeting. I am happy to pass the chalice (we have no gavel, as far as I know) to my successor. Despite the fact that the role has not been burdensome, its potential to be demanding has been enough to make me feel a bit of pressure. I welcome the opportunity to let someone else assume my worries (and enjoy the challenges). I want to take a vacation from Hot Springs Village, leaving behind for a while all the demands on my time…not that they are particularly heavy nor onerous. A week in an ocean-side cabin, watching the Pacific Ocean while sitting in a hot tub and wallowing in decadence, would be just fine.



About John Swinburn

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

  1. Thanks, Meg and Bev. Yes, actual time on the Pacific coast would be delightful. I like “oxygenarian,” by the way.

  2. Meg says:

    John, what you wrote today certainly resonates with me. It now takes me an hour just to get ready for bed. To use your favorite expression, “Achhh!”
    My new word is “oxygenarian.” It describes me, but I haven’t decided if it should apply to Bob and Court, as they are 90+.
    A week by the sea would be lovely, but with the mind’s eye you can be there anytime.

  3. bevwigney says:

    A week-long getaway to the Pacific coast sounds like an excellent idea. So many great spots along the Oregon and California coast.

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