Tempus Nervosa

My friends are getting older,
so I guess I must be, too.

~ Greg Brown ~

I think of these lyrics on friends’ birthdays, days like today, when we celebrate the formality of delving deeper into geezerhood. Today, a good friend—several years older than I—is eligible for another of those annual celebrations, those moments when we simultaneously recognize both ripening and decay. Unlike me, this friend is able to spend hours at a time on his knees installing flooring. If he would not have been deeply offended by the gesture, I think I would have paid to have the flooring installed by professionals, thereby saving his knees, and those of his wife, from accelerated aging. I have learned that younger, more agile people are better suited to installing the carpet on my porch. Were I to want wood flooring to be installed, I would hire the same people to do that work. Not that I would not trust my friend to to it; only that I would not want to be held accountable for permanent disability tied to his frozen knees. Hmm. The lyrics to the song might well need changing:

I guess I’m getting older,
so I guess friends must be, too.

Happy Birthday, Melvin T! May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back! As always, I recommend a big slice of wine and a glass of birthday pie in celebration of this momentous occasion.


Speaking of bad knees, my left elbow should be arrested for assault and battery. Its constant aching is punctuated by the occasional piercing pain, thanks to what I believe is malicious arthritis. I’ll be off to see my primary care doctor tomorrow in the hope that he will find it in his charitable heart to stab me with a syringe, injecting something like steroids that will alleviate the pain.  As it is, I am of limited value in either packing the significant belongings in my IC’s recently-sold house or in carrying the boxes laden with those belongings into my house. I wonder whether my ailment is psychosomatic, brought on only by the thought of relocating “stuff” equivalent in volume to Central America and a few states of Mexico? That’s not really fair. “A few” overstates it; more likely just Jalisco and Quintana Roo. Oh, my right elbow is experiencing more than a few twinges of arthritic agony, as well. Anyone have a little spare morphine sitting around the house? I understand LSD or cocaine, too, tend to make one forget how pain feels. Or, possibly, enjoy it. The lyrics, “hurts so good,” may have arisen from a cocaine-induced love-fest with pain. Maybe not.

And speaking of visits with medical professionals, so far this week I’ve had my eyes examined, my skin frozen, and a suspicious-looking bump on my left hand sliced off with a razor, ostensibly as part of the process of having said bump biopsied. I’ll return to the skin slicer in two weeks for further discussion. I prefer youth to excruciating maturity.


My IC will take her shih tzu to the vet today. Having spent far too much time so far this week with the human equivalent of veterinarians, I feel for the dog. He is a very nice dog. He does not deserve to be tortured. Not that I think the veterinarian will torture him, but I’m sure he must feel he is being punished when he is taken to the vet. I know I feel I’m being punished when I have to sit for long minutes and hours in waiting rooms that look and feel sterile and unfriendly and that seem dressed in purposely psychotic décor.


In spite of the fact that he’s a nice guy and his wife, too, is very pleasant, I am tired of having my handyman in and out of my house. I want him gone. Whether or not he finished up today, though, his temporary replacement (in the form of an electrician and a mini-split installer) will invade my house tomorrow. If the world is even remotely fair, tomorrow’s invasion will result in a much more pleasant “sky room,” the term I apply to the little room off the master bedroom. The sky room has heretofore been mightily unpleasant when the sun heats up the room and when the deep chill of winter makes the room feel like a walk-in freezer. The mini-split should rectify that. Although I may need to replace all four big, stationary windows and the four panes in the casement frames. But the pain of that expense will be for another time, if indeed I have to do it.  I do so look forward to having the room useable as an office or a refuge or a wildlife viewing area or an exercise retreat. And I look forward to the reliably peaceful environment that isn’t regularly interrupted by strangers who charge me for invading and modifying my space.


Snark. That’s what I feel this morning. Ice-cold snark courses through my veins in place of warm blood. I feel my eyes dart around, lizard-like, looking for insects that I can nab with my prehensile tongue. But I’m not really looking for insects, nor is my tongue prehensile. Yet I feel the way I think a lizard must feel when the world around him is moving at break-neck speed for no apparent reason other than to confuse and confound him. Why is the world so damn chaotic? Why can’t I feel the serenity that comes with gentle, soothing music (in a room otherwise absolutely silent), a glass of nice wine, and a view of a spectacular sunset? I can answer why: it’s because of where I am and who I am and when I am. I need to be someplace else and someone else at another point in time, far in the past or the future.

That’s what meditation is supposed to do for a person; transport one from the hustle and bustle of time on steroids to the serenity of never or always. Tempus nervosa is the term I coined to describe a hostility toward, or fear of, time. Not so much time itself, but what time carries with it, the weapon with which time performs its unwholesome functions. Time rips us out of our comfortable cages and thrusts us into the blinding light of years and years of afterbirth.

The final sentence of the preceding paragraph will one day find its way into a story or a novel or an unfinished dialogue with the devil,  Then again, it may never be written again. That’s the thing with language. It can be docile or it can be dangerous. And it can be carved in stone or written in clouds or steam or the vapors rising from a swamp.

I could spend the rest of the day playing with words. Not playing with words like the games we play but, instead, playing with words as if they had meaning and their meaning had power. And that power had repercussions. And those repercussions had consequences. And so on and so on and so on.


I may cook bacon this morning for no other reason than to satisfy a desire that deserves to be sated.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Tempus Nervosa

  1. Indeed! A fan, I hope.

  2. davidlegan says:

    Spring Wind!

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