Revelations Revealed

Last night’s game of trivia (an event held to generate funds for the Friends of the Coronado Center Library) clarified, for me, the way my mind works. Or doesn’t. While I had no idea about the answers to some of the questions, I “almost knew” the answers to many others. On reflection, this morning, that “almost knew” sensation revealed the way my mind works. My memory is comparable to an out-of-focus camera. The impaired camera captures the same image that a precisely-focused camera does, but does not do the photographed subject justice. Another comparison may better describe my memory. My brain sometimes records facts like a tenth-generation photocopy; it retains only sufficient information to represent enough of the original to be recognizable, but not enough to be readable.

But that explanation may ignore the real reasons I could not answer so many questions; I just did know the answers. I should have paid closer attention to Greek and Roman mythology. I should have been more widely read. I should have listened more closely, read more thoroughly, thought more deeply. It was not that I did not want to know—it was that I was unwilling to invest the time or energy necessary to learn. Last night, my abysmal performance could be traced back to one of my attributes about which I have written more than once: I know very little about very much. I skim the surface of facts and ideas, rarely absorbing the knowledge hidden beneath the façade. I take in just enough to be familiar, but not enough to actually “know.” That habit allows me to present myself as if I were knowledgeable. But in reality, I am an imposter. A poseur. A pretender. A charlatan. It is not as if I am incapable of knowing. I clearly am intelligent enough to learn; I am just lazy—unwilling to invest the necessary effort to absorb and record facts and figures.

So, which is it? Does my mind simply make poor photocopies, record out-of-focus images—or am I supremely lazy? Or could it be both? Maybe neither. Perhaps I am just not adept at retaining trivial information. Why should I expect to know how many presidents died in office? Is it important for a well-rounded, educated person to recall the names and provinces of mythological gods? I do not know. I could go on for hours, justifying my ignorance, but it would be a pointless exercise. Something like these paragraphs I have written.


Phaedra spent the night in our closet. We keep the door closed and do our best to keep her out of the closet when we open it, but we—I—did not succeed last night. It seemed odd that she did not jump up on the bed during the night, but we assumed she simply had a change of mood, not an uncommon occurrence. This morning, though, at 5:30, I heard her yowls in the distance. And when I opened the closet to retrieve my morning clothes, the volume of her plaintive cries increased several-fold. And she bounded out of the closet like an inmate freed from a lengthy stay in prison. I hope…fervently, deeply, earnestly…she did not pee during the night. On those rare occasions when she manages to get in the closet despite our efforts to keep her out, she tends to crawl into the far reaches of shelves and corners, hiding behind boxes or beneath folded clothes. Oh, I so enthusiastically hope she did not relieve herself during the night.


This morning, I will conduct a meeting of church committee chairs. The experience, which I have had several times during the church year nearing its end, has taught me how little I enjoy church administration. I do not know what I was thinking when I accepted the role of vice president, which leads automatically to president. The request that I take on the responsibility no doubt stoked my ego; my egotism was the deciding factor, I suspect. My appreciation of and respect for the church and its congregation contributed significantly to my decision, but the tipping point probably was my own personal self-absorption. A lackadaisical, bureaucracy-loathing atheist leading a bureaucracy-dependent church is incongruous. It is entirely possible I will be invited to leave my post in short order, after my installation. On the one hand, that could be a welcome turn of events. On the other, it would be a severe and entirely unwelcome jolt to a congregation that has evolved quite nicely over the years, thanks to committed volunteers who have given freely of their time, talents, and energy. When I retired from a long and strange career in managing not-for-profit trade and professional associations, I told myself I would henceforth and forevermore avoid roles involving volunteers. Apparently, I lied to myself. So, my personal misgivings notwithstanding, I will attempt to overcome my natural inclinations and, instead, be at least an acceptable director for the year. And so it goes.


The planned application of sealant to our just-power-washed deck probably will not go forward as expected today, thanks to the rain falling outside my windows. Though I have not heard from the guy who is doing it, my intuition tells me he will determine it is not a good idea to apply sealants to wet wood. If I had considerably more power over Nature, I would have scheduled sunshine all day today. My control over the weather, though, has never been particularly reliable.


I did not feel like writing this morning. I still don’t. But I did it anyway. It’s an addiction. A sickness. An injurious habit that sometimes forces me to engage in revelatory behaviors that are not always in my best interest. With that as my guide, I shall stop writing this post. Right now.

About John Swinburn

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