More or Less

I know the trees outside my window are surrounded by fog—not because I can see the fog, but because the trees’ images in my eyes are vague and dreamlike. Invisible vapor conceals parts of what otherwise would be a crisp vision, leaving only that which the fog is willing to reveal.  Except for the relative brightness of the morning behind the low ceiling of the sky, the picture before me could be a model for a midnight scene in a horror film. Behind wisps of fog barely visible among the highest reaches of the tallest trees, pine needles appear dull, almost sage grey. The setting could suit all sorts of tantalizing stories. But, instead, the view is just one monotonous aspect of a dreary, repetitive tale. A cat sitting on my desk, peering out the windows, imagining life beyond the walls of the house that is her permanent prison. An empty glass cup in front of me, dried espresso clinging to its inside surfaces. The scene changes in such miniscule ways that it seems constant from day to day. The piles of envelopes and papers are not the same from week to week, but they repeat the same stories. An automatic payment was made to this utility or that. A hospital seeks my invaluable input in the form of a lengthy questionnaire. Credit card receipts stare at me accusingly, reminders of money that would have better gone unspent. An endless cycle of minor variations on a theme by paper pushers invading my house, my study, my life. And the fog thickens; the view outside now look like a mundane still life behind a sheet of dull grey and off-white paraffin. More and more and more of the same. A road trip—circling through Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas—might cure the incessant sameness. Monstrous expanses of prairies and deserts, fields of maturing grain, skies so wide they make imagining an endless universe easy. One day. If ever the treatments are judged to have worked or to be pointless exercises in wasted time. Suddenly, at 8:22, the fog lifts. Leaves brighten. The segments of the sky visible behind the trees become brilliant blue.


Soon, the plumber should arrive to take care of a few annoyances. It only took me two years to force myself to find someone. I left a message for a plumber a couple of weeks ago; no return call to date. But yesterday, my call was picked up on the second ring. If all goes according to the promise, a plumber will be here soon. And the day may brighten just a little.


And so it goes. Another day in another week in the midst of a month as the Earth turns toward what we have collectively decided to call mid-year, more or less.

About John Swinburn

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