Yesterday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was a watershed moment. I think. I hope. It is well beyond time we had a woman in a senior executive position in our government. Many, many other countries have long since gone beyond debunked notions that women are not suited for executive power; it’s time. And Biden’s call for unity, as difficult as it might be to achieve, is critical to the future of the nation and the world. I am hopeful. But I remain a realist. I am crossing my fingers and wishing for the best.


The notions of forgiveness and absolution are noble concepts embraced by people for whom peace, serenity, and compassion embody far greater value than do power and control. Yet in the act of forgiving, an individual exercises authority that can be bestowed by no one else.

“Forgive and forget.” Those admonitions are easy to make, but hard to take. Once taken, though, and adopted with enthusiasm, tranquility is achievable. Blame and its companion, disparagement, agitate and brew turbulence that clouds any effort to create an atmosphere of peace.

The hardest forgiveness to achieve is forgiveness of oneself, but it is perhaps the most necessary if an atmosphere of calm ever is to be achieved. It is easy to forgive someone else for even the most egregious transgression, but forgiving oneself requires compassion and acceptance that seem undeserved. And forgiving oneself requires acknowledgement that one’s flaws are forgivable. Even when they are not. Even when one is irretrievably broken and flawed beyond redemption.

I suspect one of the reasons religion has a ready foothold in the human psyche has to do with the concept of forgiveness and redemption. Even when one is unable to forgive oneself, another person—who embodies the strength of the church and who has its authority to forgive—can remove an obstacle to self-acceptance. “I am redeemable” becomes a path to internal peace.

But those who do not accept that such power rests in the hands of others, or in the hands of a divine being, have a harder time of it. It is easy for us to believe others are forgivable; but we cannot forgive ourselves because we know ourselves too well.

All of this may be just so much nonsense; philosophy fed by an inability to stay asleep after four in the morning. But it is what’s on my mind and why I sincerely wish this morning I had access to powerful sleeping pills, something that would erase my thoughts and leave me completely empty. Wish in one hand, spit in the other…


Television characters often have exceedingly bad luck. Their lives are laced with unfortunate experiences so numerous that viewers weep for them and wonder what they did to deserve such misfortune.


Finally, an hour and twenty minutes into my day, I am having a cup of coffee. I did not feel well enough to start the morning with coffee when I first got up, thanks to overeating last night. My midnight snack, consisting of the remainder (from dinner) of a large piece of extremely rare beef, apparently did not set well with me. I think I have sufficiently recovered now, though, to allow coffee to safely enter my system.

If I were smart, I would embark on a month-long fast, drinking only water and eating only radishes. At the end of the month, I would comfortably fit into my jeans (and possibly my genes) and be well on my way to a more reasonable weight for someone of my limited height. After a month of it, I might even see and feel evidence of muscles that have long since been disguised by the results of too much food and drink. I am eating far too much and far too often, as if that’s the only thing I can do to occupy my time. That’s not true, of course, but I seem to have allowed my body to reach that conclusion. There was a time, not long ago, that my usual breakfast (when I wasn’t experimenting with international breakfasts) consisted of a poached egg, a piece of Canadian bacon, a small tomato, and a few radishes. That’s a good, healthy breakfast (more or less). Cinnamon rolls and mandarins and bananas and leftover pasta and such, not so much.


Companion: a person employed to accompany, assist, or live with another in the capacity of a helpful friend. That definition seems so sad; “…in the capacity of a helpful friend.” Yeah, “employed” because, otherwise, it would be impossible to have access to that “helpful friend.” The reason I looked up the definition of companion is that, last night, I had a conversation about co-housing and how the concept has always appealed to me. The idea of being alone is both appealing and depressing; but co-housing offers the possibility of the best of both worlds. Both access to and service as a companion, while simultaneously offering solitude and privacy. But does the idea of companionship by way of co-housing seem a little like one essentially is “employing” companions, rather than developing them through natural evolution? I don’t know. I still have a great deal of interest in co-housing. I’ve explored the idea for years. My wife was not a particularly big fan of the concept, but then she was an even more dedicated introvert than I. But I find it appealing. Although it does sound, this morning, a little like “friends with benefits.” But who’s to say that is all bad? We are judgmental beasts, aren’t we? Our ideas of morality are shaped by our experiences; we probably would have completely different ideas if our experiences were different. If we lived in a different culture, behaviors we find shocking today might be absolutely normal. Sociology has always been appealing to me.


My wife was attracted to dragonflies. She bought artwork that depicts dragonflies. She had shirts with images of dragonflies printed or sewn onto them. We had garden art with dragonfly motifs. If I were to get a tattoo, I think I might get one of a delicate dragonfly. I just do not know where I would have it placed on my body. Maybe I would have it on my left wrist, in place of a watch. If I ever get a tattoo, though, it will be a while yet. I’m not ready for a tattoo; then again, maybe I am.


It’s just after six. After weaving this little tapestry of unrelated ideas, I may try for twenty minutes of sleep now. Or I may not.

About John Swinburn

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