Reality, Viewed Separately Together

Apathy once was of great concern to almost everyone. But nobody cares anymore. That’s just one more deeply-fatigued manipulation of a time-worn play on words. Uniqueness in creativity becomes harder to achieve with every new-born baby. Babies are not simply cute, innocent little beings—potential competitors, every one of them. Eventually—and it could happen today or ten years from now—all fresh, new creative thoughts will have been expressed. Every single creative idea will have been previously expressed, making it impossible to unearth more—they all will have become tarnished by use. Any new expressions of creativity claimed as one’s own will be taken as incontrovertible evidence of plagiarism. The penalties for plagiarism will rise sharply when creativity disappears. Short prison sentences will be replaced by something more meaningful—death by firing squad or guillotine…or public hangings. By that time, of course, the penalties for breaking traffic laws—speeding, rolling stop at a stop sign, unsafe lane changes, etc.—will involve public flogging. At some point beyond that moment, all crimes, no matter how petty, will be addressed with the same punishment: submersal, with no breathing apparatus, in a shark cage. Jaywalking or parking in a no-parking zone or any other minor infraction will be penalized by drowning. The immediacy of sentencing and the repeal of all appeal processes will result in an early surge of executions, followed by a period of terror-induced peace.

Cavender Baker had been proud to be a police officer. He served on the force with honor for twenty-eight years, beginning when he was only twenty years old. But changes in the statutes that resulted in treating once-lawful behaviors as capital crimes turned him against the law. His retirement at forty-eight came as no surprise, inasmuch as  he said too openly and too often, “Anyone serving as a police officer today should either quit or be treated as a threat to freedom and democracy and be disposed of accordingly.

Four days after his retirement, Baker was bicycling toward his home after visiting Chamber’s Liquors when stopped by a police cruiser. The driver and his partner claimed Baker had unsafely crossed into the lane for motor vehicle traffic. Baker’s very vocal disagreement led to his forced placement inside a shark cage, now carried in all cruisers.

The police department docks were jammed with police cars and SUVs. Empty shark cages, wet from their recent submersion in the cold waters of Friendly Bay, were stacked on one side of the submersion point. Cages filled with screaming occupants littered the other side. Big metal dumpsters next to the wet shark cages were almost overflowing with big black plastic sacks. A crane swiveled over the full cages and carefully snagged one of them with a hook, when swung it over the water and lowered it into the bay. Five minutes later, the cage was hoisted out of the water, emptied of its criminals, and deposited on the stack of empty shark cages.

Cavender Baker knew a thing or two about escaping from a shark cage and disposing of morally corrupt police officers. Despite the fact that creativity was nearing extinction, it had not completely played out.

Already I’ve lost interest in what happens to Baker. Ach.


Discard all you are not and go ever deeper. Just as a man digging a well discards what is not water, until he reaches the water-bearing strata, so must you discard what is not your own, till nothing is left which you can disown. You will find that what is left is nothing which the mind can hook on to. You are not even a human being. You just are—a point of awareness, co-extensive with time and space and beyond both, the ultimate cause, itself uncaused. If you ask me ‘Who are you?,’ my answer would be: ‘Nothing in particular. Yet, I am.’

~ Nisargadatta Maharaj ~

I am surprised at myself for, first, reading all the way through the above quote and, second, thinking I understand the author’s points and—moreover—agreeing with them. Nisargadatta Maharaj was, according to Wikipedia, an Indian guru of nondualism. Nondualism, I recently learned, is a viewpoint that questions the boundaries conventionally imposed between self and other, mind and body, observer and observed, and other dualities that help shape our perceptions of reality. In other words, nondualism seems to be one form of ‘woo-woo;’ but an unusual form I can understand and, possibly, embrace. According to someone, writing under the name Gobinda Sardar, Nisargadatta Maharaj ‘taught that there is no individual self , no world , no God , no creation , no liberation , nothing but the absolute reality which he called ‘I am,” I sometimes question the existence of the world, creation, liberation, etc. I regularly assert my disbelief in God. I wonder, though, about the self and liberation and other matters that may tend to mislead our perceptions of what and where and when we are. Most of the time, though, I keep such issues buried under mounds and mounds of irrelevant thoughts.


Tomorrow, finally, I go back to the oncologist. I’ve been waiting more than a week to learn next steps. I learned yesterday, by viewing a document I earlier had missed in my patient portal, that my new/replacement chemo drugs will be carboplatin (after being desensitized to it) and taxol. I think I’ll still be on Keytruda, but I’m not sure. Taxol, I’ve read, causes most patients to lose their hair; it either goes away entirely or it thins a lot. I’ll ask the doc about whether I should expect to lose my hair. That does not bother me in the least. What bothers me this morning is the knowledge that this new chemo process is an experiment. There is no assurance it will work. That was true, of course, of the first set of chemotherapies, as well. We shall see.



About John Swinburn

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