A drink of cool water—before making espresso, before swallowing a handful of pills, before feeding the cat, before thinking about and then deciding to ignore a few dishes left in the sink overnight—welcomes me to pre-dawn darkness. We are fortunate to have ready access to that cool, clean, clear gift, yet we seldom take time to sit in contemplation of something so crucial to our comfort and our survival. When clean water is scarce, we want it all the more. And when we are sick, we clamor for health. If we are sinking in abject poverty, we seek wealth; or, at least, adequate prosperity. Sufficiency. Enough. That is all we really need. And that, I think, is the most we should try to obtain. The benefit of enough. Sufficient to meet one’s needs. We permit needs and wants, though, to be confused in our minds; we think of them as one and the same. How much is enough? Enough water may be far less than the amount we want. Does thirst for water signify the insufficiency of water, or is thirst merely an expression of want? Where, along the continuum of need and want, do the two intersect? Physics probably can be used to quantify that point, but the emotion of want may not be as easily measured through physics as is (or may be) need. I allow myself to think in circles; better than thinking in cubes, I suppose. Which calls into question the matter of ice—and where it belongs in this stream of consciousness meditation.


When I went in to the oncologist’s office for my two injections yesterday afternoon (one to deal with a low volume of red blood cells and one to address a high volume of white blood cells), I learned I was again low on magnesium. So, I was infused with a bag of magnesium. The APRN told me the doctor was concerned that she may need to put me back in the hospital over the weekend to ensure adequate magnesium in my blood. But the nurse convinced the doctor to let me take pills until Monday. So, I was advised to pick up a new prescription for more magnesium pills and to return to get another infusion of magnesium on Monday. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up the pills, though, they were out. They will not receive a shipment until Monday, the pharmacy clerk told me. I am rationing the few magnesium pills I have left, hoping there are enough to keep me healthy until Monday. Damn pharmacy! The same pharmacy that repeatedly has failed me in the recent past. Apparently, one of the chemo drugs I have been on has the potential for consuming magnesium with a vengeance. I may try to find another source for magnesium today; there must be somebody out there who can be my supplier for the short term. Ach! Reading about the dangers of extremely low magnesium levels now has me a bit worried. I may try to reach my doctor’s on-call people to determine whether I need to do something more aggressive to boost my levels. The idea of a return visit to the hospital is not at all appealing; but someone else should make that call, not me.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti ~


A dull grey-blue sky behind a curtain of trees appears to be staring at me. What, I wonder, did I do to deserve getting the stink-eye from the celestial beyond?

About John Swinburn

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