Now is What Matters

A simple question asked of the wrong person can trigger unhinged fury. I know this from personal experience. Lesson learned. Do not give an irrational person possessed of an incoherent animosity even the slightest opportunity to twist reality to suit their insane, malicious agenda. I write this as a reminder to myself, of course. I will not reveal the identity of this raving lunatic, but I will remember her. She tries to present herself as a sweet old woman, but that “sweetness” is artificial. A brutal, poisonous hatred brews beneath her saccharine façade. I saw it long ago in stories about familial and other relationships gone bad, but did not pick up on the clues until I was in her cross-hairs. My wife’s reaction to her long ago should have been ample warning to me, but I persisted in believing the woman was simply a quirky character with a good heart. I should have listened. Oh, well. Fortunately for me, I can simply avoid the maniac from here on. While there may be circumstances in which I cannot avoid her as long as I live in the Village, I can be stoic and silent. That may not shield me from her rage, but I will not utter a word to give her an opportunity to unleash it.

I realize the paragraph above might trigger guesses among those who read it as to the identity of this lunatic. I will not reveal her identity, nor will I respond to speculation about it. Writing about her is simply my way of ridding her from troubling me.


I spent part of the morning yesterday participating in a Zoom meeting in discussion of Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. The event was the second in a multi-session online class about the author’s memoir style. I did not attend the first class, so did not know the assignment for yesterday’s class was to read the first five chapters of the book. However, I had read the book years ago, so I recalled some of the basics of the book and was able to follow and participate, to a limited extent, in the discussion. I learned quite a lot in the short, 45-minute session. I think I’ll enjoy re-reading and discussing chapters 6-11 next week. Though I’m not planning to write a memoir, discussing writing style is intriguing to me.


Most of the rest of the day was spent going through tax materials and beginning the process of entering information into my Federal return.  I am of the mind that the Federal government knows exactly how much income I have and from what sources, as well as how much Federal tax I have paid, so I should not have to regurgitate information the IRS already has. My only role should be to identify and justify expenses, etc. that would reduce my tax burden. But my opinion does not matter in this matter. I must simply do as I am instructed; follow the rules, without questioning them. This free society of ours is not as free as we would like to think. We have constructed, or allowed to be constructed, an elaborate, malleable cage that bends and flexes in response to the amount of capital available to individual inhabitants. The more the capital available to an individual, the more pliable the cage; the less the capital, the more rigid and sharp the cage’s bars become.


I am angry at myself this morning for allowing a neurotic flake to get under my skin. In order to exist in some semblance of serenity, that anger must vanish. I must allow the present moment to wash it away. As usual, I find some insights in the little book I keep at my desk:

Do not dwell in the past.
Do not dream of the future.
Concentrate the mind
on the present moment.

~ Buddha ~

Now is what matters. Now is all there is. And now has no place for anger, nor animosity, nor resentment. Even the exasperation I expressed in the first paragraph of this post and the indignation I sometimes feel for past slights or attacks against me have no place in this moment. Now is what matters. Love is what matters.

About John Swinburn

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