Returning to Before

I may begin setting an alarm. I lost almost two precious hours of pre-dawn brooding reflection to shallow—but dream-laden—sleep. Again. This has happened too often of late. I may have to eschew medicinal gummies; while I cannot attribute all of my over-sleeping to that particular indulgence, there’s almost certainly a significant correlation. Now, at this late hour, all I can do is wonder what breakthrough idea did I fail to conceive, thanks to sleeping in? It’s impossible to know…such a shame.


Very, very early this morning—perhaps 2 or 3—I woke to thoughts of a friend from church. It was more of a daydream or fantasy, I think. In my hazy thoughts, she and I were sitting at a table in a very dimly-lit jazz club. A pianist played softly in the background, but as low as he played, I still had trouble hearing my friend’s words. She told me she had bought into a co-housing community. I thought I heard her invite me to come see it, but I wasn’t sure that is what she said. For some reason, I was reticent to ask her to repeat or clarify her words. And during this fuzzy dream—if that is what it was—it occurred to my conscious self that I had intended to call her several days ago to arrange a get together between mi novia, my friend, her husband, and myself. So, there, as a result of thoughts in a state of semi-sleep, was my reminder: call her today.


Parts of New Mexico and Arizona and other southwestern and western states have already begun to experience the effects of drought. Not the sort of drought that simply stresses agriculture, business, and residential communities.  The kind of drought that promises to make places uninhabitable. And, in some cases, not because water is unavailable but, instead, unsafe to drink. Several months ago, I read about a town in midst of west Texas oil fields where water was unsafe to drink. And I remember hearing about another town facing an uncertain future because of the lack of water. Twelve years ago, Spicewood Beach, Texas became the first Texas town to run out of water. Robert Lee, Texas followed not long thereafter. When water disappears from a community, so does the ability for humans to survive there without finding ways to replace that precious local resource with importing water…at great effort and expense.

I live in a place where annual rainfall totals are significant. But even here, changing climate threatens to transform lush, green forests to tinderboxes…when rainfall patterns shrink as a result of atmospheric changes. This possibility—this reality—is not a secret. It is not a fact hidden from the masses. It is and in-your-face truth. Yet the vast majority of us use water as if the supply of the clean, clear, life-giving liquid were limitless. In my growing periods of pessimism about the future of our planet—as a home to humans—I sometimes succumb to a frightful mind-set:

The environmental destruction of our planet is inevitable, so we are kidding ourselves if we think our feeble attempts at “conservation” matter. We might as well indulge ourselves as much as we like. Because…

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

When I realize I have acquiesced to such skepticism, I try to bring myself up sharply. But more and more frequently, I cannot shake the pessimism or the self-indulgence. We may as well engage in orgies of drunken debauchery, I say to myself. And then I feel ashamed about my attitude. But that feeling of shame diminishes with each occurrence. I have no grandchildren to think about, though I should think about others’ grandchildren. And I do. But I also think humankind should simply stop reproducing, thereby preventing the sacrifice of future generations to the failures of their ancestors.

Either way, conserving water is just the polite thing to do.


I am more than hungry. I am ravenous. I would chew the bark off trees…eat light bulbs and spark plugs…consider the possibility of engaging in cannibalism. The latter only with the previous consent of the specified entrée. The probable reason for my hunger is the fact that we did not have dinner last night. Instead, we each had an Atkins bar and some pecan halves. This morning, I am not in a state of mind suitable for making breakfast. Ideally, I could be teleported to an Asian fusion restaurant, where I could enjoy a bowl of pork congee, a bowl of miso soup, a piece of flash-grilled salmon (rare, please), and an unlimited supply of scallions, radishes, and grilled mushrooms. Oh, well. Teleportation has not yet become as common as I would like. It seems to happen only in science fiction and in my head.


Mi novia and I may make a trip to my childhood stomping grounds before long—Corpus Christi. And/or San Marco, where my parents are buried. I learned that their graves are located in the Old Original section of the San Marcos City Cemetery, gravesites L-20-7 and L-20-8. I may have been there once after their headstones were placed, but that has been many, many, many years ago. I am not one to be sentimental about gravesites and headstones, but for some reason I would like to have a look at them. Back in Corpus, I would like to see my old house and my old schools. Based on some information I read just a few days ago, my old elementary and junior high schools are being replaced soon. I suspect the city of Corpus Christi is quite different from the last time I saw it, only a few years ago. As much as I am not a fan of the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes on the Texas coast, something about the area…at least the way it used to be…is deeply appealing to me. I would like to return to the area when the beaches were sparsely visited, there were no buildings on Padre Island, there were draw bridges from the mainland to the island…but I know, assuming Thomas Wolfe’s book title, You Can’t Go Home Again, is correct, that…you can’t.


Enough, again. My mind is racing with a million thoughts. My fingers simply cannot keep up.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.