Musing About Introspection

The year 2014 was a period of intense self-reflection for me. I do not know with certainty what prompted such deep introspection, but I suspect it might have been the knowledge that my life was in the midst of dramatic change. I knew from the first day of the year that my my wife and I would move away from the Dallas metroplex, where we had lived since late 1989. That would have been enough, I suppose. But there was more that made me want to take a look inside; I wanted to know more about me than I had known before. Part of that thirst to know more about me prompted me to commit to writing, every day, my “thoughts for the day.” From the first day of that year through the last day of the year after, I wrote at least one and sometimes two very brief blog posts with my “thoughts for the day.” A significant trigger for my daily posts, I think, was my desire to lift myself out of a years-long low-level depression. Self-motivation; an attempt to cure an ailment about which I knew virtually nothing.

On that second day of the year eight years ago, among the few words of my short post were these:

Today, I will dance for no other reason than to celebrate movement.  Today, I will think for no other reason than to celebrate thought.

I remember, all these years later, how I hoped my words would motivate me to break free of the melancholia. And I recall that they did; they urged me to try, at least, to shed my low opinion of myself. For two years, never missing a day, I awoke to express in words something that would change me or, at least, help me understand myself. I posted pithy comments, short rants, and the stuff of motivational posters; an eclectic blend of words that, I hoped, would reveal me to myself and would enable me to become someone I could  like more than who I was. I compiled the entire year’s Thoughts for the Day for 2014 as a means of sharing what a year of my life meant to me, as I lived it. I did the same for 2015. I had planned to publish them in two separate softback books, one for each year. For various reasons, I abandoned that idea. I still skim through the two drafts on occasion, wondering why I ever thought anyone would find them of even passing interest.

Even though—after two years—I abandoned the self-imposed requirement that I write a short piece every day, I have continued writing almost every day since. My writing now usually is a significant departure from what I wrote during those two years; it has no single, focused purpose. Today, I write because I cannot NOT write. I have to express what’s on my mind; even when I find it hard to think about what to write, I MUST write. It’s therapy, I suppose. I imagine it’s still an effort to explore who is inside me and an attempt to find something truly loveable or likeable. There’s a  sense of “Catch-22” in all this, of course. Self esteem is the sine qua non of admiration and admiration is the sine qua non of self-esteem.

So much of what I wrote in 2014 and 2015 comprised the same substance I write about today. Sometimes, I feel like I’m just rehashing everything; like I have an incredibly small sphere of ideas and emotions that I recycle repeatedly, just using different words. It’s almost like I’m wrapping words tighter and tighter around a hard piece of an inaccessible something and the tighter I wrap it, the harder it gets. A nut impossible to crack because it has morphed from something soft into a diamond-hard rock. It’s pointless to keep recycling these things. I sometimes laugh at myself for thinking, in 2014 and 2015, that I could accomplish by writing what I couldn’t accomplish by living day to day. The accrual of wisdom sometimes coincides with the accumulation of sheer stupidity.


According to my computer’s weather widget, the temperature as of 5:50 a.m. was 25°F. It’s now more than an hour later; I suspect it may have dropped a degree or two. The high today is now forecast to stay at or below freezing. That sort of weather is uncomfortable, of course, but because of extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures, it also has the potential for troubles such as broken water pipes. Ach!  Fortunately, our HVAC system is holding its own, so the temperature inside the house is comfortable. But the system is cycling on and off rather frequently, evidence that it is working much harder than normal to keep inside conditions close to ideal. I hope that situation continues, both here and in the “new” house. I put hose bibs on all the faucets at the new house day before  yesterday; yesterday, I went over late in the afternoon to set the faucets dripping slightly. I did the same here. With good fortune, all will be well. I’ve experienced burst water pipes and their aftermath before. I do not want to experience either again.


Finally, these two quotations provoke me to contemplate what is so deeply hidden i

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Musing About Introspection

  1. Debbie, thanks very much for putting your reaction to my post into words! I truly appreciate the feedback and, of course, I am grateful for your kind words. Happy New Year to you, too! I hope we can make it out to CA in 2022. As you know, we planned to make a trip out last fall, but COVID intervened and changed our minds (and Gladys’s circumstances, as well). We’ll see how things shake out in a few months.

  2. Debbie Kirilov says:

    I am glad you feel the need to put your thoughts into words. I would miss it terribly if you didn’t. Happy New Year to you and your IC! I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and adventures in your new home. Maybe 2022 will also include a trip out to CA for you two, of course after your move, after a cold winter, and when Covid slows down again. Have some fun creating a new home and keep warm!

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