Seasonal Transition

Despite the fact that there are still remnants of yellow pollen on everything outdoors, being outside is finally more than just tolerable. Sitting outside on the deck yesterday afternoon was delightful. The calls of several birds, the occasional sounds of wind chimes, and the air’s warmth joined forces to create an incredibly pleasing environment. Sitting on comfortable cushioned chairs, sipping on a cold drink, and feeling completely free for awhile of all normal obligations represent the rewards of retirement. I recommend entering it as early as possible.


There was no aurora in my line of sight last night. I went to bed quite early. The photos I have seen posted online this morning make me wish I had stayed up, but I gather that the colors were visible only through the lens of a phone’s camera. Still, it would have been exciting. My enthusiasm for rarely-seen events in and around our Milky Way Galaxy seems to have waned over the years. There was a time I would have set my alarm to remind me to get up and go outside at 2 a.m. Maybe I have been disappointed at the results when I did that before. Perhaps I tend to let my interest and excitement grow beyond what is reasonable; so, when the “real world” shows itself, I fee let down. Who knows? I imagine the decline in intellectual and emotional interest may be closely aligned with advancing age. Until a year ago, I felt like I was only a fraction of my physical age; today, it’s more like I feel like I am 125% of my actual age. I may need a nap this morning. And, quite possibly, again this afternoon.


I had a conversation yesterday about writing retreats. Several years ago, I participated in two such retreats. The opportunity to spend a few days in relative seclusion, focusing much of my time almost exclusively on writing, was valuable. I joined a few other people—who also belonged to my local writers’ group—thinking that keeping company with them would help keep me focused on writing. It did not turn out quite that way. Some of us used more of our time than we should have done to socialize. Lesson learned. If I try it again (and, increasingly, I want to), I will strictly limit social time. My success will be measured by my productivity, both in volume of output and in quality of my writing.

I have in mind developing and fleshing out the stories of characters who live in and around a fairly small, semi-rural town. The town, once on the path to fast growth and an appealing standard of living, is decaying, thanks to the sudden departure a few years earlier of the community’s largest employer. A group of locals, mostly long-time residents but with a couple of relative newcomers, gather regularly at a failing bar & grille to discuss their own futures and the town’s potential for rebirth.  Businesses that had blossomed in the town’s heyday—including a bank, a newspaper, a few restaurants, the bar & grille, a grocery store, and a few others—either had shrunk or disappeared.

This description of what I hope to write could go on, of course. But I think I should stop thinking about writing the story and, instead, should record the words and the story sliding out of my brain. Retreats—perhaps a week at a time—could provide the environment for the story to evolve, like the medium in a Petri dish. One of my almost countless flaws, though, is my tendency to get bored with myself. When that happens, the ideas for a story or a book I once thought were worth pursuing lose their appeal. I haven’t decided whether it’s my boredom or my laziness that slows—and then quickly stops—my progress. I would need to get a handle on that flaw and refuse my automatic efforts to replace it with another.



About John Swinburn

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