Spinning a Few Philosophical Thoughts

Before this morning’s welcome experience with freshly-brewed, hot coffee, my last cup of the stuff was Sunday morning. Though I am by no means addicted to coffee, it is a welcome luxury I miss when I cannot have it. Yesterday, thanks to the required protocol in preparation for my PET scan, I had to forego my normal consumption of coffee. Usually, at least one cup; more often, two or three.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I doubt that’s truly possible. Not for coffee and certainly not for someone with whom one longs to share a morning, with our without coffee. “Out of sight, out of mind” is another absurdly incorrect “truism.” Again, not true of coffee and not true of relationships. The desire for coffee cannot compare to the desire for companionship. Yet those of us who speak the English language seem to accept, or at least parrot, these aphorisms as if they have some sort of intrinsic value; as if they carry a message that other words cannot convey. Balderdash! In spite of my use of various adages in my writing, I do not accept them at face value, nor do I believe they carry some magical “truth” to which we all must subscribe.

Why has my mind veered so sharply from coffee to a “witty” apothegm or two this morning? It’s hard to say. It’s just what I do on mornings when cleaner teeth are just hours away, thanks to an appointment with the dental hygienist.


I have things to do today, aside from going to get my teeth cleaned. If all goes according to plan, I will drive into town to visit a place I call the “gummy distribution center.” And I’ll stop by another purveyor of pleasure, a liquor store, for some cheap wine (I’m a cheap kind of guy).  If I’m in the mood, I’ll go to Lowe’s to explore LED lighting for the crawlspace under my house. And, if it fits my schedule and a friend’s schedule, I may tag along to look at a Class C motor home (not for me, mind you…just looking). I could add a thousand other things to my schedule, I suppose, but doing so would not succeed in stifling my anticipation of tomorrow, when my eyes will be treated to a view I’ve been missing for too long. I feel the smile on my face as I think about that sight.

It is hard to follow the admonition to “live in the moment” when anticipating another moment is such a strong force in one’s life. But we all do that, don’t we? We all hold our breaths and count the hours until something—the birth of a child,  evidence of a growing bulb breaking ground, the next season of a favorite television program, the return of a lover, a graduation ceremony…something important—takes place. How can we live “in the moment” when we are so wrapped up in the next moment? It’s not so hard to understand. Anticipation is living in the moment. The pleasure of anticipation corresponds to the release of endorphins that make THIS MOMENT a spectacularly pleasurable one. When anticipation becomes reality, the spectacularly pleasure becomes orgasmically pleasurable (sorry, I could not summon a word that better describes that climactic moment).  Living in the moment means letting the past be gone and permitting the future to unfold; but when anticipation is part of THIS MOMENT, one can feel comfortable that one is following the admonition. The entire paragraph, including my comments about endorphins—about which I know almost nothing—is simply speculation. But it is based on real belief. At least I think the belief is real.


We would not feel so vulnerable, so subject to the whims of arbitrary Nature, if the world were a safe, predictable place. The fact, though, is that the world is unsafe; none of us leave it alive, even after living an almost magically glorious life. It’s hard to wrestle with the fact that experiencing good fortune does not preclude its evil twin from intruding on celebratory festivals. But that’s precisely what we must do. We must wrestle with the negatives that strive to bring down the positives. Joy and good fortune are worth fighting for to the very end. Preparations for the fight must include the unpleasant acknowledgement that fights are sometimes lost. At the same time, the possibility of loss must not be treated as an acceptable outcome. One must twist logic on itself in order to summon the strength necessary to overcome the evil twin; that bastard that threatens to dismantle and shred a monument built from the fibers of good fortune. It seems that bleak reminders of our ultimate destinations often follow the most wonderful experiences, experiences that are almost spellbinding in their wonderment. Perhaps it’s just coincidence. Or, perhaps, it’s simply the way our minds remind us that we must not take joy for granted; that we must fight and claw and brawl our way through the melee in order to protect the magnificence from harm.

Of course, sometimes we prepare for a ferocious fight, only to learn one’s opponent has left the ring. That is perhaps the time we most need to remember how urgently we must prepare for a fight because, the next time, the opponent may return, this time with a contingent of henchmen.


Love is among the most pleasurable of the emotions. It is both a receptor of good feelings and a deliverer of the same. It is absolutely altruistic and unspeakably selfish. Love makes the daylight sky brighter and the night sky darker and more mysterious. It enhances the senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Despite what some would tell you, it does not necessarily take long months and years to develop; it can come on in an instant. But when it does, it can grow stronger, though it seems impossible at the time it could have more power. Love is salvation; sometimes just in the nick of time. Giving and receiving love is the most intense aspects of all the emotions and the elements we all most need.


My emotional state this morning is an odd mixture of happiness, wonderful anticipation, and a little dread. I really have no interest in taking a shower, but I must. And I must shave. And brush my teeth (and floss!). Oh, well, I suppose I have to hurry or I’ll not make my appointment.


About John Swinburn

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