The Law of Pressure-Pots

A friend uses a different term for the apparatus I call a pressure-cooker. He calls it a pressure-pot. I’ve come to prefer his term, though I can’t seem to get out of the habit of calling the device by the name I’ve used ever since I knew such a contraption existed. It’s a linguistic habit. Like other habits, it’s hard to break; successfully overcoming the propensity to fall back on the familiar requires conscious effort and a commitment to follow through.

Whether I call it a pressure-cooker or a pressure-pot, there exists a place in my brain where private thoughts reside—and where they one day will die. It is locked tight by a hermetic seal created by joining two pieces of molten memory into a single impervious ridge of penetralia. And, though my thoughts are locked there for an eternity, I am in the habit of requiring my mind to experience them, over and over again. To what end I endure them I don’t know; unless I am simply testing myself, or evaluating the integrity of the lock that keeps confidential my ruminations.

I wonder what would happen if a bullet pierced that pressure-pot, allowing its contents to spray forth in a noxious cloud of acrid, scalding steam? Would venting that poisonous arcanum aracanorum split the earth in two? Would what’s left of the world I inhabited explode in a hissing fireball, spreading sparks and flinging acid upon survivors?

We don’t know what would become of us, or our secrets, were the thoughts we share with no one but ourselves to escape from our pressure-pots.  The consequences might be far less explosive than we might think, but they could be far worse. We don’t know the consequences, regardless of what we might intend. The laws of unintended consequences are beyond our capacity to grasp, except in bitter hindsight. Therefore, we strive to keep the pot safe and secure, out of the path of stray bullets. But even that protective act may have unintended consequences.

So, the lesson may be this: we have no control over the consequences of our actions or inactions; our best choice is to do what we do—or refrain from doing what we shouldn’t. Either way, the pressure-pot will hold; or it won’t.

About John Swinburn

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