Morning Meditations

I did not announce the end of my sabbatical. It simply disappeared into a harsh, acidic vapor. Sabbaticals should bring rest and relaxation; my short attempt at escape morphed into a gritty recess on a dirty, dangerous playground. So I returned to a routine—altered though it has been by circumstances and a state of mind constantly on edge. Let me rephrase that; I haven’t returned to a routine as much as I have forced myself into a pattern that, heretofore, has been comfortable. Without a stencil to shape my days, I found myself floundering about. The brief periods in the morning when I write seem to bring at least a semblance of order to my thinking; if nothing more, they help me face unfamiliar days.


After I wrote yesterday’s lament, I spoke to my wife during the  course of the day and exchanged some text messages. She said her situation improved considerably after the interactions I had with staff. The under-staffing issues seemed to have been rectified and she reported that she was receiving the level and kind of attention she thought appropriate. I hope that continues. We will talk today about questions I will ask of the administration when I connect with them (assuming that actually takes place) on Monday. In the fray, I seem to have overlooked that I have a CT scan scheduled for Monday morning, followed by a visit with my oncologist. I again hope the CT scan reveals nothing but good news.


Last night brought a brief respite from what has seemed a long chaotic swirl. Neighbors invited me over to enjoy a drink and hors d’oeuvres on their deck; all properly masked and distanced. With a glass of 2018 Cuvée A Amrita (a sparkling white wine from Anne Amie Vineyards, located in the Willamette Valley, Oregon) we toasted my wife, wishing her good health. We enjoyed quite the spread: shrimp with cocktail sauce; grilled, cheese-stuffed peppers; spanokopita; and mixed nuts. And we talked politics (they share mine) and hummingbirds (they have at least six feeders hung around the perimeter of the covered deck) and various other subjects. Though it was only a short visit (under two hours), it gave me an opportunity to put a little distance between reality and my recent life experiences. But I wished, the entire time, that my wife could also have enjoyed the respite. She told me by text message, before I went next door, that she planned to watch a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie last night, so I should plan not to disturb her. 


Today’s weather forecast reminds me that summer in central Arkansas behaves a little like a convection oven; wind circulates around a heat source, amplifying the effects of temperature. I had planned (hoped is a better term) to power wash the deck in another futile attempt to prepare to lay down another coat of paint. It’s time I give up on that fantasy and direct my attention toward finding a reliable contractor to finish the job. The energy I once had for that project has long since been spent. And I find myself worrying, whenever I am in a position that might make it difficult to hear my phone ring, that I might be missing an important call from my wife. Of course, I still haven’t trained myself adequately to always carry my cell phone with me, which exacerbates the worry. And she frequently calls on the land line, so I hate to leave the house lest I miss a call. All of this argues that I should find a contractor. Getting the deck finished, including getting new railing and replacing the screen in the screened-in porch, will take a load off my mind. I’ve been battling that project since the summer before my lung cancer diagnosis; it’s time to stop pretending I can do it myself and hire professionals.


I came across a quote, attributed to Buddha, about which I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it seems wise and logical, but on the other I can interpret it as arrogant and egotistical. Like so many things in my mind, it occupies two competing dimensions:

Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except your self.


With that, I will end this later-than-usual morning meditation.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Morning Meditations

  1. Stuck in Maskless Oklahoma says:

    Glad to hear that Janine is doing better than she was the last time we spoke. I see nothing but good things coming out of your upcoming CT scan!!! Take that to the bank of your choosing!!!

    I like that quote and see in it not something arrogant and egotistical, but rather a suggestion about how you should manage your expectations of others and not assume or demand things from them. However, what do I know? That one philosophy of religion I took at UT years ago doesn’t necessarily apply here… 🙂

    Be well, amigo! And give Janine a verbal hug from us!

  2. Thomas L Swinburn says:

    I am glad that Janine’s circumstances have much improved and am hopeful that is a permanent change. It may be that your “talk” with the nurse had the desired effect, she not wishing to be the subject of your ire. (Again?) If you can talk to the administrator tomorrow and impress on her your willingness to let bygones be bygones in terms of that first nights cf IF the change remains in place I believe that will bring about a little much needed relief for you. Not to mention the advantages to Janine. I, old as I am have not yet been able to get control over my anger, and that likely more often than not leads to a less than good outcome. Of late I’ve reached the point that when screwed over I am just resigned, not mad. But you can’t very well do that with Janine.

    Here’s hoping YOUR medical issues which the scan will address are proven of no concern. For five years following my partial nephrectomy the twice a year then annual checkups had me worried. But the 11th of this month marks 15 years from my date of surgery with no return of the cancer. With luck you’ll follow the same route.

    Give Janine my best, and rest assured you have a ton of support.

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