My calendar for today is surprisingly empty. Though I have plenty to do, nothing is truly pressing. I may attempt to do today what I had planned for yesterday. Or I may take the day for myself, by myself. I think I’d rather spend some time in the presence of someone else, but last minute pop-ins seem to be a think of the past. Maybe the 1950s, with the decade’s saccharine purity and odious innocence, ruined extemporaneous visits. I hope not, but…who knows.


During the night last night, I woke myself up a few times by speaking in a loud voice to myself…asking myself questions, answering some of them, and otherwise making enough noise that I could not sleep over the din. A couple of years ago, I wrote briefly about hypnagogia and hypnic jerks, involving the state of consciousness leading from wakefulness to sleep. I frequently experience hypnic jerks during the day as I sit at my desk, trying to stay awake while typing (or trying to type). My experience last night was the opposite of hypnagogia. It was hypnopompia, the state of consciousness while coming out of sleep into wakefulness. Whether hypnopompia can occur repeatedly (like my experiences last night suggest) during the same circadian rhythm sleep cycle or not, my experience seems to indicate it can. I have very definite recollections of experiencing both hypnagogia and hypnopompia on multiple occasions. I just wish I better understood those rather odd states of consciousness. But like so many other of my curiosities, the strength of my interest is insufficient to merit a deeper, more meaningful, and ultimately fully informative exploration. In other words, my experience is just another example of my very broad but utterly shallow interests. Still, I know more for the moment (oh, I will forget) than I knew a short while ago when I started to explore what to call my experience.


A few days ago, I wrote again (for the umpteenth time) about my visions of driving to desolate places. A friend left me some comments last night, suggesting a place where I might find the seclusion I’m after. I would need to take a ferry from Newfoundland to Labrador. I am fully prepared to do that when the time is right and I have settled the mass of bureaucracy in which I am embroiled. I think my interest in the Canadian Maritimes is sufficiently deep AND broad to allow me to learn what I’ll need to know before I embark on such a trip. In an ideal world, I would be joined on the trip by someone who’s equally introverted, which means someone who can go for hours and hours without speaking while absorbing the views outside the window, but who can then engage in discussions that reveal the depth of personality that hides behind the protective outer shell. I do love my solitude and isolation, but I prefer it with a side of intimacy and openness. In other words, I may be almost impossible to be with because my personalities fight with one another. At least I win some of those battles.


The friend who visited me recently, the fellow poet, left a book of poetry for me. It is entitled “The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief.” It was written by Jan Richardson, an ordained Methodist minister, writer, and artist. Though heavily clothed in religious overtones and undertones, much of the content of the poems is quite relevant regardless of one’s religious perspectives or lack thereof. The poetry is rich and heavy with meaning and comfort, while simultaneously heart-rending and brutal in its honesty. I suspect I’ll return to the book regularly, picking poems at random to read and absorb and understand. One of the poems, Blessing the Tools of Grief, explores how the same tools of grief that break us apart can heal. Here’s the last stanza:

the joining that comes
piece to piece
in a pattern
that will never be
the same
but will leave us
inexplicably whole.

In reading what Richardson wrote, I have the sense that she experienced the emotions she examines. The dust jacket of the book reveals that she had, indeed, experienced intense grief. Her husband, singer/songwriter Garrison Doles, died unexpectedly.


My television viewing of late has been all over the map. I watched an entire series (one season, four episodes) of Deep Water, an Australian program described as “gritty.” It’s about murders, both old and new, of gay men in and around Bondi Beach. I could not stay awake during the entire hour and 47 minutes of Thunder Force, an “irreverent” film about strange superheroes; just not my thing. I am deeply enmeshed in season two of Arrested Development‘s five seasons. Though I’m enjoying it, it’s one of those shows that may lose me to something grittier and more challenging before I make it through all five seasons. I watched the entirety of Season One of Paranoid, described as a “dark, cerebral British crime drama.” As far as I know, it only lasted one season; too bad—I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed My Octopus Teacher, a documentary about, what else, an octopus.  And I was entranced by Inhuman Resources, a French crime drama also described as “gritty” and “dark.” Only one season is available on Netflix, but inasmuch as that was only from last year, it’s possible more will be coming. I hope so. Other programs I’ve watched and enjoyed in the relatively recent past include: Warrior, a gritty Danish drama and To the Lake, a Russian sci-fi series. I should create a comprehensive list, with brief synopsis, of programs/series/films I watch. A friend suggested just that; he offered up the idea that we could do that as a group endeavor from people at the church. Worth a shot, I say.


My grand plans for yesterday went in a slightly different direction than expected, but I did make a dent in my fantasies, as shown below:

  • Vacuuming the car and making its interior more or less livable
  • Neatening the garage and discarding unnecessary “stuff”
  • Sweeping the garage floor and cleaning up the “workspace” behind the garage
  • Making the guest bed
  • Pressure-washing the deck, removing massive amounts of pollen

The bed got made, thanks to considerable assistance from my sister-in-law. For some reason, it’s harder to make that bed than the one I sleep in, the one in the master bedroom.

Despite failing to knock off the other four items on the list, yesterday morning was extremely productive, though I can’t take credit. I spent much of the morning watching my sister-in-law organizing my late wife’s clothes, stuff I’ve been unable to bring myself to sort through. I’ve sorted through some of it, but I’ve left most of it to my sister-in-law. She’s already been through a good bit of my the clothes, but there was quite a lot left. When I’ve begun to go through it, my emotions kicked in; they behaved badly, so I had to back away. I’m fortunate that my sister-in-law has been both present and willing to go through things. Today, while she was sorting clothes, I spent some time going through jewelry. Another opportunity for me to demonstrate my weakness; but I came across quite a few items that brought back lovely memories. There’s a long, long way to go. I’ve almost decided to ask my sister and my nieces whether they are interested in some of my wife’s jewelry. But I may decide I can’t part with some of them, despite the fact that they have no practical use to me. Practicality has no bearing in retrieving one’s love from a vault that’s not closed and won’t be until the end of time.


Yesterday afternoon, I visited my next door neighbors. We drank wine, talked about the views out our respective back windows, and otherwise chatted about things we cannot change but wish we could. I was stunned to discover, upon getting up to leave, I had visited with them for almost four hours. I intended to spend only an hour or two, but time got away from me. I can imagine, after I left, waves of relief washing over my neighbors’ faces. I should set an alarm next time. If they ever invite me back. It’s my turn to host next, though, so I’ll let them decide how long is long enough. Regardless of the fact that I may have overstayed my welcome, I enjoyed being with them and hearing them talk. We share many of the same political, social, and moral philosophies, which is not surprising I suppose, since they are Friends at the church I attend.

Some time before I went to visit, I got a call from a friend from church, asking if I would be home, in that she had the monthly church “gift” to deliver on behalf of the church Keep in Touch Team (KITT). I told her I was planning to have wine with my neighbors, but otherwise would be home. She asked if my neighbors were the ones who are Friends of the church; yes, I told her. She said she could drop both our gifts with my neighbors. And she did. When I got next door, my neighbors greeted me with the bag left for me, which included a container of soil, along with three kinds of seeds for herbs and appropriate instructions. This morning, I wrote an email to the woman who delivered the gifts yesterday: “I feel so fortunate to be involved with people who are so motivated, so compassionate, and so passionate about what they are doing!” And I meant every word of it.


All right. Time for me to kiss the morning and wish it a pleasant metamorphosis into a good day. And while I’m doing that, I should cook some bacon so it doesn’t go bad. One should feel rightfully wrong if one allows bacon to spoil. I don’t want to be that one.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Passion

  1. Paula Newman says:

    Bacon makes everything better.

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