Musings on a Wednesday Evening

I got word late this afternoon that my brother will be released from the hospital on Saturday. So, I’ll head down to welcome him to my niece’s home; I should arrive by late afternoon. There’s no time-frame for my visit. I’ll remain there as long as he needs someone to help him recuperate from his lengthy surgery and subsequent hospital stay. My niece and her husband both work (she just started a new job), so they can’t get away. I’m retired and untethered to inescapable responsibilities, so I’m capable of flying the coop with little notice for as long as necessary.

My responsibilities are as yet unknown, but to the extent I can, I’d like to spend some of my time while away from home doing something I’ve not allowed myself time to do here: writing and painting. I’m anxious to give my painting skills (that’s not a legitimate word to describe my brush work) an opportunity to develop. And I really need to focus some attention on pulling my hundreds of stories into a cohesive whole, which will require considerable writing and editing. Will I achieve these objectives? Time will tell. Perhaps I should start by acknowledging they are not objectives. They are merely wishes, desires that can readily take a back seat to responsibilities.

I’ll miss my wife while I’m away. She will miss me, too, but I suspect my absence will give her an opportunity to unwind that’s simply unavailable when I’m home and perpetually “wired.” Maybe I should practice meditation while I’m away, as a present to her upon my return. She’ll be stunned if I return home as the mellow man she deserves. I’ll be stunned, too. And delighted beyond words. I wonder whether pills of the legal variety prescribed by licensed physicians might be more effective and more controllable than meditation. Medication in lieu of meditation. That sounds fundamentally wrong, but closer to the way the world, at least the Western world, seems to be working.

I went to a Medicare counselor today to learn what I could about my Medicare options. The woman was nice and shared a few bits and pieces that I’ll find useful as I do my research, but I had hoped and expected to get more advice. Instead, I was directed to many places online and in hard copy that will fill my head with so much data that decisions will be based more on relieving the pain of choices than on rational thought. I dare not let that happen. A single choice in Medicare can follow you to the grave. Scary stuff. But necessary stuff.

People laugh at others, like me, who take pictures of their food. I equate my habit of photographing my food with others’ habits of photographing their children or grandchildren. You record that which is important to you. Because I have no chirren and therefore no grandchirren, I must photograph something important to me. So, it’s food and beer and places of interest. I read on Chuck’s blog post that he (and it’s true of most of us, I think) hasn’t taken many photos of places he’s lived, environments in which  he’s operated, or streets where he’s traveled over the years. His comments struck a chord with me. I haven’t either. And so big chucks of my life are available to me only through very poor and getting worse memory. Pictures of houses where I grew up are missing from my limited collection. Photos of cars I’ve owned seem to have gone the way of clothes I wore as a child; they’ve simply disappeared, with no recollection in my mind of what happened to them nor any trace of their demise. But, by God, I have photos of food I’ve made of which I’m mightily proud. And meals my wife has cooked. And occasional restaurant masterpieces. Because, well, significant accomplishments of whatever form deserve recognition. They deserve to be memorialized. They merit acknowledgement. My 1971 Ford Pinto doesn’t really merit much, so the relative (or perhaps absolute?) paucity of photos of the deathtrap doesn’t bother me. I wish, though, I had a photo of the shed behind my parents’ house that I helped Dad build. Ach. Well, unfulfilled past wishes are simply failures looking for forgiveness. You can quote me on that. It sounds prophetic, doesn’t it? I mean, seriously, “Unfulfilled wishes are simply failures looking for forgiveness.” It belongs on a motivation poster. Hmm. Maybe motivation isn’t the right word. Disregarding that, the phrase makes very little sense. But it has potential. I can imagine it carved in stone on the side of a mountain. Or, perhaps, melted into the side of a dying glacier with a monstrous blowtorch. Get a photo of it, would you, before it disappears?

Am I rambling? Why, yes, I believe I am. And for some reason a line from a Paul Simon lyric from the song, America, is in my mind today (as it often is) and won’t leave me alone: “Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping. “I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.” I don’t know Kathy, and I guess it doesn’t matter. She wasn’t listening.

About John Swinburn

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