Not just beautiful, though — the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.

~ Haruki Murakami ~


My decision to go to bed early last night was deliberate; I made that call long before I crawled between the sheets and quickly fell asleep. A few hours after that early bedtime, I woke. I considered getting up and plunging into the day, but I discovered it was only a little after 1:30, so I persuaded myself to try to get some more sleep. I did sleep a bit more, but it was restive. Slipping in and out of wakefulness, the night seemed to drag on. But three hours later I finally decided I could not stay asleep. I caught brief naps, but they would not allow me to remain comfortably distant from intrusive thoughts and painful, aching joints. So, just a few minutes before 4:30 I slipped out of bed; awake and willing to explore what the day has in store for me.

Clean dishes, still drying on the kitchen counter next to the sink hours after they had been washed, begged me to finish drying them and to put them away. With that task finished, I made coffee. A cup of rapidly-cooling coffee sits on a coaster on my desk, just above my computer mouse pad. I can tell already, after taking a couple of sips of now-lukewarm coffee, that neither the heat nor the caffeine in the cup will be sufficient to jump-start my thought processes. I will slog through the next little while without the aid of a proper cup of coffee. But after I manage to adapt to the dwindling heat of anemic coffee, I will reward myself with a new cup; this one just hot enough and flavorful enough to awaken me from this languid state of consciousness. I will not let the new cup sit and cool; as I drink the hot coffee, I will feel a strong dose of pure energy course through my veins, as if the caffeine in the coffee has been injected directly into my bloodstream.


Darkness prevails at this hour. This early morning retains its connection with the darkest, blackest night. I look out the window and see nothing but empty blackness. And I see the reflection in the window panes of the lamp on my desk. No movement, just blackness. Occasionally, though, either I see something move outside my window or my imagination is playing with me. Something out there may be watching me. A deer, perhaps. Or a fox. or a racoon. Or a human. A human who does not belong out there. It’s only my imagination, right? There’s nobody out there at a quarter after six in the morning. No matter the time, no one belongs outside my windows. And there is no one there. Right? No one peering in at me, watching me type; watching me peer out the windows.


I surprised myself this morning by deciding to read an article I normally would have ignored and then dismissed as hype. The article contained excerpts of an interview with William Shatner in which he discussed his experiences surrounding his trip as a passenger on a suborbital space tourism flight. The flight was orchestrated by Jeff Bezos, the obscenely wealthy CEO of Amazon and god-knows-how many-other-companies. Normally, I would have skimmed the headline of the article and dismissed it as promotion and propaganda from a self-important actor. But, instead, I read the article. And it had an emotional impact on me. Shatner recalled that, after he returned to Earth from the space flight, he cried. He said it took him hours to realize why he cried: “I realized I was in grief for the Earth,” he said. Looking out the windows of the spacecraft, Shatner saw the utter blackness—the emptiness of space—in one direction and the glow of life—Planet Earth—in the other. He cried, knowing what humankind is doing to its only home planet.

Maybe it was hype. Maybe Shatner spoke those words and wrote that book to advance both his financial fortune and his fame. That notwithstanding, I thought his description of the experience was moving. And it emphasized to me the fact that we are too late in recognizing what we have done to this planet. Ach.


Poverty is a ruinous circumstance. Nobody deserves to live in poverty.

About John Swinburn

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