Pink Sky Streaks Send Positive Signals

It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.

~ Frederick Douglass ~

I hear the sounds of a distant helicopter. Of course I could not see it, even if I went outside. The sky remains completely dark outdoors at this hour: 5:28. Why would a helicopter be flying above Hot Springs Village in the pre-dawn darkness? My only guess—that is is a medical helicopter landing or taking off from the helipad at lakeside by Coronado Center—but the sound seemed to come from the other direction. Noise play tricks in the forest, though. Sounds echo off of…or are absorbed by…the trees. Making accurate judgments about where they are coming from is impossible. The sounds are gone, now, and I have no more information than I did when I first heard the groan of a helicopter engine and the whip of its blades. I am left only with a vague memory of the sound and the dim imprint of possibilities; why it could be in the dark sky at this hour and where it could be going. I wonder: is it taking someone to the hospital, because a ground ambulance would be too slow when seconds might count between life and death? Or is a semi-retired business CEO who lives in a million-dollar-plus house on Lake Balboa being ferried off to a meeting or an early golf game in Little Rock? Or, God forbid, is it just my imagination, the same imagination that amplified the sound and vibration of my heartbeats so much last night while I tried to sleep that I wanted to scream loud enough to muffle my heart’s incessant, loud pumping? I often hear and feel my heartbeat. Probably some relationship to tinnitus—a sound one person hears, but nobody else can perceive. My curiosity caused me to do some research this morning (after the helicopter and in response to my memory of my heartbeat). My noises, I think, are symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus, which “occurs when the ear becomes aware of a change in blood flow in nearby blood vessels. These include the arteries and veins in the neck, base of the skull, and in the ear itself.” according to Medical News Today.

That explanation makes sense to me. The implantation of my chemo-port yesterday involved placement of the port in the right side of my chest and running a tube from the device, up the side of my neck, and into my jugular vein. Perhaps the tube jabbed into one of the jugular veins on the right side of my neck (either the anterior or the exterior jugular vein, if my understanding of a graphic showing the three jugular veins in the neck) amplifies the sound of the flow of blood near my inner ear. No one else could hear such a delicate whisper of noise, but because of its proximity to the tiny bones in my ear, I can. But I distinctly remember the sound pounding in both ears, so that explanation may be off course. Not that it matters, actually.

Not that anything I’ve written so far matters. Not just this morning, but this century. And the last. It is impossible to know whether something one has written matters unless it has some kind of immediate and substantial impact…or unless history places importance on one’s writing produced in times past. Current and immediate impact might be contents of newspaper or magazine or some other, electronically-distributed, ideas. Or it could be books, in whatever form, that become quickly and completely popular. Or some other contents that are recognized, at or near their moment of consumption, as meaningful in a broad, societal sense. These paragraphs are not that. Only time will tell if any of the other paragraphs I—or any of us—have written truly matter. By that time (if it ever comes), we’ll probably be long gone. That very slight possibility—that something we left is a legacy of words—is reason enough for me to wish for the opportunity to move far enough forward in time to enable me to look back to see whether there is, indeed, a legacy of any kind to view. Yet knowing that disappointment probably waits, is reason enough to be satisfied to leave the future alone.


My fatigue, one week after my second chemo treatment, is not as overwhelming as it has been, but it tends to oscillate up and down in unpredictable ways; I don’t know from hour to hour how I will feel. For that reason, I decided not to go to tonight’s wine dinner that mi novia and I normally attend. Another reason is that I want to (and should) limit my exposure to crowds, some members of which may have COVID, flu, or other afflictions to which I should not be exposed. Anyway, mi novia invited my sister-in-law to fill in for me. I have an obligation at church on Sunday—presiding over election of members of the church nominating committee—that I may ask the vice president to handle in my stead. That function is one of only a few perfunctory acts assigned to the president; the presidency is not a position of power but, instead, of coordination and organization. Because of that, it is very easy for someone else to step in to perform the duties of the office. In spite of my occasional disappointment with the ritual and procedures and bureaucracy woven into the fabric of the church, the organization’s cloth is stronger and more lasting for it.


I can have peace of mind only when I forgive rather than judge.

~ Gerald Jampolsky ~


Phrased properly, opposing philosophies can be presented to me in such a way as to draw my agreement and praise. On one hand, that bothers me; one should be capable of selecting only one of two (or more) philosophical positions as one’s own. On the other hand, the ability to find both merit and logic in opposing philosophies may be evidence of one’s open-mindedness and/or one’s ability to lend complex analysis to and about competing ideas. There could be other meanings reasonably assigned to agree with competing ideas. I could spend all day thinking and writing about them. But I won’t.


Enough of all this. I’ll have another espresso and, against my better judgment, a spoonful or two of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.  I see a light pink streak in the dim blue sky, a signal that having a little ice cream on the morning after Valentine’s Day is an acceptable deviation from healthy eating. I hope your day is at least as good as mine. And I hope mine is at least reasonably good.


EXPLANATION OF EDITS: I read the post above again. The number of typos I encountered was more than embarrassing; it was devastating. I hope they were typos. If the keys I hit were tapped on purpose, I am having trouble with my brain functions. Actually, that may be true even if I did not hit those keys on purpose. At any rate, I have attempted to correct the typos. If there are more, I will appreciate being notified. Gently.

About John Swinburn

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