Patiently Waiting

This morning, I watched a short video clip of an interview with Princess Märtha Louise of Norway. She, like some of her British counterparts, has chosen to disengage from the life of a royal, opting instead to be just another citizen, with a twist. She has given up her royal financial stipend and has forsaken the title, “Her Royal Highness,” but apparently she has retained some royal responsibilities. Based on the context of her comments, among other things, I suspect her royal responsibilities are largely ceremonial; purely for “show.” During the video clip, the princess mentions that she is spiritual, something she says is “taboo” in Norway.  In exchange for relinquishing her royal benefits, she has decided to earn a living by being a “spiritual leader.” I wrestled with whether to watch the entire BBC video or, instead, be satisfied with just a few snippets from the clip. My decision: I am satisfied, for the moment, to move on to absorb other information from other sources. However, if my contentment degrades by avoiding the full interview, I know where to go to find it.


Several times last night I woke to hear rain pounding the roof. Accompanying the heavy “tapping” sounds of raindrops was the unmistakable gurgling of rainwater draining from the roof and through the downspout. The volume of the latter noise varied considerably and absolutely inconsistently. It might have been low and slow for a moment, after which the volume spiked…as if the velocity of the flowing water increased several-fold. No two iterations of the cycles of volume and flow were the same. The sounds’ inconsistency kept me away for several minutes at a time…and then allowed me to sleep for a few moments, only to be awakened again by a slightly different noise.

As I think about last night’s episodes of wakefulness, listening to the rain hitting and flowing off of the roof, it occurs to me that the experience was all-consuming at the time. The only thing on my mind at the time was a cluster of related thoughts: rain, sounds, flowing water, repeat… All my attention was directed toward the consequences of weather. Except I was conscious of the fact that I was awake and, most of the time, I did not want to be. My consciousness, though, a special kind of consciousness, not the consciousness I experience during most of my waking hours. It was, instead, an incomplete, fuzzy, hazy, translucent consciousness. It was an awareness that might be akin to the state of mind a person feels during the emergence from the sedation delivered during a medical procedure, like a colonoscopy. My thoughts about varying types or degrees of consciousness are new this morning; they did not occur last night, during the experiences of semi-wakefulness.

And my thoughts on the matter are, in all probability, completely useless. Remembering my sleeplessness and my state of mind accomplishes nothing. What possible value might there be in focusing one’s attention on how one felt—or thinks he felt—when awakened by the sounds of a late-night rainstorm?


The deep, guttural sound of thunder echoes across the sky and rattles the ground this morning. Looking upward from my study window, I see small, dim grey clots of sky beyond the tree-cover. When morning climbs out of the depths of night to find grey skies, rain, and growling claps of thunder, the rest of the day takes on an unusual appeal. Rather than looking forward to walking out side to soak in the light of bright blue skies, I look forward to feeling safe and dry and warm, a membrane of glass between me and the the onslaught of…something. Weird, I think. As if I feel some form of communication between us—us being me and my assignment of anthropomorphic attributes to the weather. I “talk” to and “listen” to weather the way I might speak in and “understand” the language of a pet dog or cat. I am not the only person who speaks to animals and expects them to respond…am I?


The topic of psilocybin came up during a conversation with a friend yesterday. Both of us are curious about psychedelic, hallucinogenic effects of the stuff. We agreed we would like to experience the effects; I would want to experiment under the supervision of someone very knowledgeable about what kind(s) of mushrooms to use and how much is safe. During the conversation about what constitutes hallucinogenic effects, we came across an interesting idea. That the effects hallucinogens have on one’s visual perceptions may differ. One person, for example, might see a wild assortment of colors flowing like bubbles; another person might see limited colors and rigid, angular shapes. I am curious about those differences and what might explain them.

Mi novia and I are in the midst of watching the television series, The Good Fight (her first time, my second). A main character in the series experiments with micro-dosing (of psilocybin), which leads her to hallucinate about bizarre political newscasts, among other things. I think that show, along with another recent conversation about the topic, is what spurred my interest. But I tend to be a somewhat cautious sort, so I doubt I will experiment anytime soon. When I do, though, I hope I have company (and a knowledgeable supervisor/companion).


Many people, especially people who belong to an identifiable minority, are very conscious of their cultural roots.  Mexicans, for example, and indigenous people we in this country have labeled “Indians.” And Blacks. And Acadians/Cajuns. And Koreans. And Syrians. And on and on. But I have always felt that my cultural identity is being written, in perpetuity, on a blank page in disappearing ink. An Anglo with uncertain genealogical lineage and no other definitive characteristic that would establish me as part of an identifiable cluster of like people. If I were extremely arrogant and full of piss and vinegar, I might assert that only the weak would surrender part of their identity just so they can say they are part of a specific demographic. People like me, I might say, are self-reliant individualists who do not use cultural affiliation as a crutch to artificially elevate our worth. Yet I am only moderately arrogant. Piss and vinegar flow in different vessels. If I could choose to belong to a “minority” with strong cultural attributes, I think I might choose “Mexican.” But, then, I would probably need to clarify by narrowing my identity by saying “Chihuahuan” or “Oaxacan” or “Jaliscan” and so on. And then, maybe even “Guadalajaran” or “Chapalan.” I could say I am an “Arkansan,” but that would be true only if residence defines me. If I said “Texan,” I would be staking my cultural identity on my birthplace. And if I said “American,” I would be saying I belong to a large, diverse population containing what seems like growing numbers of mentally vacant nationalists. I am sorry. I slipped off the path of righteousness and into a whitewater rapids of scalding sarcasm.


Saturday. I’ve waited all week for today. And here it is.

About John Swinburn

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