Semi-Random Splashes of Thought

Our choices are limited. We can accept our lot in life as it is, work to change it for the better if there’s room for improvement, or reject it outright and refuse to attempt to do anything to change it, suffering the consequences without taking steps to change them. There may be a few more, but those cover most of them, I think. I would be well-served to remember that those, by and large, are what we can do with the lives we have. Obviously, life is not quite that simple; but only because we insist on believing in and/or hoping for the utopia we know does not exist. Those thoughts bring to mind this quotation from my little black book of Zen quotations:

Beneath, the mountain stream flows
On and on without end.
If one’s Zen mind is like this
Seeing into one’s own nature
cannot be far off.

~ Hakuin ~

The connection to what I have written may not be entirely obvious, but when I think of the two concepts from different perspectives, they come around to meaning the same thing in ways that words cannot adequately explain. Even though I am in love with words and language and meaning, words cannot always do what art and abstract thought and inexplicable emotions can do.

My IC and I staffed volunteer roles at last night’s fundraising dinner/silent auction for the Democratic Club of Hot Springs Village. My role was meager; hers was more involved, processing payments for late registrants and silent auction bid winners. I placed one bid, before the crowds arrived, on an enormous and truly gorgeous metal container. My bid, $75, exceeded the suggested “value” of the item by $15. Almost immediately, it was doubled by someone who wanted it even more than I. Then, after another few offers, the bidding stopped at $250. Still a bargain, in my book. The metal container was hand-crafted somewhere in the middle east, probably in Saudi Arabia, at least a few decades ago. I asked the winning bidder if I could come visit or whether we could share joint custody of the piece; the said I could come visit from time to time. Ach! In fact, I have no place to put the enormous piece of  practical art. But I would have made room, somehow. My IC, however, was the successful and sole bidder on a beautiful, framed piece of artwork; a lovely batik image of irises. The question, now, is where it will hang.


My hospitalized brother called me yesterday while I was on the way to a pharmacy in Benton. He confirmed what I had heard; that the doctors plan to wait until blood thinner in his system has dissipated so the risk of unintentional bleeding is reduced during the implantation of a pacemaker. He expected to be transferred from the regular ICU to the cardiac ICU as soon as space is available in cardiac. There, he will wait until Tuesday for the procedure; he hopes he will be released from the hospital on Wednesday. He says he does not anticipate needing any assistance from a caregiver when he is released. I hope that’s verified before too much time passes. At any rate, the news is good and the prognosis sounds just fine.


Health issues abound for my IC’s dog. His heart murmur is bad and his time probably is limited. Yesterday, while she was at the lake with her swimming friends, he pooped repeatedly at her house. Then, after she returned here, he did it again. Last night, on our return from our volunteer roles at the Democratic Club dinner and silent auction, he did it again. (We had left him in rooms with hardwood floors, but he did his thing…on a large throw rug…when got back home.) He spent the night isolated behind the doors of the master bathroom and the laundry room. He was left in doggy comfort with his bed, his toys, and a towel on top of a large, soft bath matt. I have not opened the door yet this morning to see whether he left any more gifts overnight. Poor pup! My IC walked him a bit last night after we returned; during the walk he either injured his left hind leg or got a thorn or some such ugliness. We could not find what was wrong; my IC will take him in for a veterinary visit today. LATE NEWS: The dog is happy, alert, and not limping this morning. He left no gifts overnight and seemed just as chipper as ever when he and my IC left for a walk a bit ago. I hope he remains happy and healthy for a good while longer.


I am worried that stubborn, misinformed, and/or stupid people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will dramatically extend the pandemic and may well make it much worse. Already, the numbers are spiking again in many places, including Arkansas, where something like one-third of the state’s population has been vaccinated. Two-thirds of my fellow citizens have opted to believe conspiracy theorists and political monsters over qualified medical professionals and epidemiologists whose lives have been dedicated to learning about such things as COVID-19 and how its spread can be mitigated or, possibly, completely stopped. I am not only not proud of the majority of Arkansans, I am deeply ashamed of and embarrassed by them.


Open expressions of love, the kind of love for our fellow humans we gladly reveal to the world, sometimes hide something deeper and more intimate but potentially awkward. Sometimes, we may be unable to articulate that deeper feeling, either for lack of the words or out of concern that it could be rejected. Or it could be viewed as inappropriate in the wider culture—or in the narrow slices of culture that define our lives. It is within these little woven ribbons of emotional connection that we allow ourselves to complicate the world in which we live. If everyone accepted and appreciated and endorsed all expressions of love of whatever kind an regardless of how they were expressed, we might all be happier. But that will never happen. While I acknowledge, intellectually, the value and desirability of the concept, emotionally I would be utterly unable and unwilling to accept it. I am—and I think most of us are—too emotionally brittle and lack the self-assurance to accept it.


The day is off to a good start, over all. I am ready to conquer the world and the sum of my fears. Whether readiness will translate into success remains to be seen. More coffee and some sustenance may propel me toward good things. I’ll try them.

About John Swinburn

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