Pass the Sodium Pentothal

The male of the human species is not necessarily shallow, but neither is he deep. If he daydreams—if he allows his mind to indulge in innocuous woolgathering—he generally keeps those distractions to himself. Explaining why he loses himself in fantasy simply is not worth the effort. Besides, he is not quite sure of his reasons. He vaguely suspects only that daydreams feed parts of his psyche that, in their absence, would otherwise starve. But attributing to him even those nebulous suspicions may suggest far greater scope to his intellectual complexity than is due. Yet there is something about his daydreaming that offers evidence he may have more depth than is apparent on the surface. If he would ignore his embarrassment about his private visions and freely discuss and explore them, he might learn something worth knowing. But he won’t. His grasp on masculinity is too fragile for that. He buys into the mindless lore that equates masculinity with machismo. And, in his mind, wakeful fantasies have no legitimate place in the embedded culture of maleness—except, perhaps, to provide a means of escape from the prison of prescriptive mindlessness.


I do not relish the idea of going to visit the pulmonologist this morning. He is one of the doctors I saw a few times during my last hospitalization. I have no strong reason to dislike him, but I suppose I do not need a strong reason—any reason at all will do.  I suspect his patient-facing mannerism (AKA bedside manner) has more than a little to do with my displeasure with him. But the doctor’s ability to engage with me in a friendly way is not what I’ll be after. I want an iron-clad guarantee; certainty that he will provide me with an irrevocable cure for whatever ails me. If all goes according to plan, I should finish my appointment with him and be outside and ready to watch the commencement of the  total solar eclipse with time to spare. I will not stare at the sun. Nor at the moon blocking the sun’s impossibly hot surface. Why, I wonder, do we refer to the “surface of the sun?” Is the core of the star very different? Is the sun millions of degrees cooler a hundred thousand miles beneath the surface? I cannot imagine that the center of the star is not just cold, but exponentially frigid—a place where temperatures have ceased to exist and “absolute zero” would be equivalent to a hot day on the Sahara Desert.  Fantasies. Daydreams. Reverie.


The speed of light is far slower than the speed of time. I find it far easier to move forward and backward in time—instantaneously—than to watch light from a star at the edge of the Milky Way galaxy as it reaches my eyes. The light takes far longer. When the extraterrestrials arrive—and they will—they will arrive in time “capsules.” I do not know what form time capsules will take, of course, but I would bet the future of humanity on their existence. And I would bet that a complex relationship between time and distance—far more complex than any other relationship we have ever contemplated—will be the vehicle enabling extraterrestrials’ arrival. I noticed, just the other day, that a massive squadron of time vehicles from the far edge of the universe had landed on the far side of our moon. The vehicles carried with them equipment that will be used to transform a huge chunk of Planet Earth (all of Africa, from the surface of the planet into its core) into an impossibly fine mist. Through gravitational effects, the remainder of the planet will collapse into the vacant space where Africa had been. In less than the time required for a hummingbird’s wing to flutter just once, our planet will disappear. For millennia, humankind has whispered about the “rapture.” We had it wrong. The proper term is the “rupture.”


When I went to bed, very early as has been increasingly usual, my sinuses were stopped up. But dripping incessantly. Each of the seven or ten times I woke to pee during the night, the sheets were damp with cold sweat. What in the bloody hell is going on with my body? Tomorrow morning, I want to wake up—after a delightfully satisfying night of uninterrupted sleep—young, healthy, and dry as old leather (but with skin as soft and smooth as truth and generosity). Between now and then, though, I have to get out of my chair. And I have to shower. And go to the pulmonologist. And view the celestial apocalypse. And have a few chunks of cold watermelon.


Good morning to you.

About John Swinburn

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