Rain is a distinct possibility this morning.

The early morning sky seems heavy, as if burdened and in need of relief. Rain can relieve the sky of its uncomfortable heaviness. Or so I’ve been told by clouds, who have a close relationship with rain, so they should know. If it were possible for me to converse with clouds—and if they had the decency to respond without mocking the fact that I speak to them—I could learn a lot. I could learn what the world looks like from far, far above the ground. Though, to be frank, lately the clouds have hugged the earth as if they were afraid the earth would wander off without them. I could learn something from those earth-hugging clouds, too. I could learn whether they consider themselves one and the same as fog or whether they think of themselves as distinct from it. And how do they differentiate themselves from fog—if they do—when clouds and fog collide on the sides of mountains? So many things to learn! So limited in my ability to experience the perspectives enjoyed by inanimate objects…assuming, of course, inanimate objects can experience joy. Doesn’t “enjoy” mean “to experience with joy?” I think it does. And, if so, can clouds or rain or fog experience joy? Can they enjoy their experiences in the universe? Humans assume only animals can feel pain and love and joy and sadness. We are so sure of ourselves. Actually, though, we know next to nothing. We know less today than we will know tomorrow, but there will never be enough tomorrows to know all we do not know today.

No, I am not experimenting with LSD. Nor any mind-altering drug. Just thinking. Maybe it’s whimsy. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe it’s an attempt to wash away the ashes of yesterday.


I ordered incense from Amazon a few days ago. Unlike many things one can order from Amazon, incense is not delivered overnight. Or even a few days after ordering. I do not know why I have to wait so long; perhaps it is shipped from Bangladesh or Pakistan. Or, maybe there is an unpublicized incense shortage; my order’s delay is simply evidence that incense is in short supply. At least the patchouli scent; that’s what I ordered this time. Last time, I ordered an assortment of scents. I was not thrilled with several of them. I like patchouli, so I ordered an entire box of patchouli-scented cones. According to Wikipedia, “Patchouli is a species of flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, commonly called the mint or deadnettle family.” Until this morning, I had never (at least, not as far as I remember) questioned the origin of patchouli. Perhaps I assumed it was a mixture of hippie-sourced smell crystals, created under cover of darkness in isolated mountain passes is the Colorado Rockies, far, far from the prying eyes of law enforcement and evangelical ministers. But now I know otherwise. Assuming, of course, one can trust the pronouncements of Wikipedia. At any rate, I look forward to receiving my patchouli-scented incense. I’ve been burning a rather unsatisfactory cinnamon-scented incense I bought many years ago in downtown Hot Springs.


Robin Williams is quoted as having said, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” In hindsight, given our knowledge now of his battles with depression, I think he may have had insights that most people, thankfully, will never have. But his insights can be informative, educational, perhaps even life-saving. Feelings of worthlessness probably cannot be overcome by urging people to “buck up” or providing evidence that they are valued and loved. I suspect feelings like that must be addressed at a much deeper level with the help of people who understand the genesis of depression and know ways to pry it out of a person’s mind and discard it where it cannot be resurrected.


The “coo-coo-coo” of mourning doves greets me around dawn every day. I rarely see them, but I hear them. When I lived on a mountainside, in the morning I heard the crowing of chickens and lowing of cattle. Now, I hear mourning doves and Carolina wrens and pine siskins. And crows. And other birds.

About John Swinburn

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