The Pain and Pleasure of Risk

In my opinion, The Woman in the Window, on Netflix, is a waste of time, intellect, and the investment made in producing the film. Why I watched it all the way through is beyond me. Fortunately, after I finished that miserable excuse for a movie, I had ample time to watch something else of greater value…which would have been damn near anything. But I didn’t watch anything. Instead, I cogitated and mulled and mused; three endeavors I sometimes find fulfilling.

The only value I found in the film was the opportunity to see just a bit of Julianne Moore, who I find extremely attractive and from whom it is impossible for me to turn away my gaze. That having been said, I would have rather watched almost anything else, and should have done. Arabic cartoons based on the collected works of the philosopher, Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani, would have been more entertaining and engaging. Incidentally, I had never heard of Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani until this morning; incredible, isn’t it, what one can learn when one awakens before 5:00 a.m.?


I am not getting Ricky the chihuahua. While various matters made it impossible or inadvisable for me to adopt Ricky, apparently, someone else snatched him up. Which was good, because my veterinarian friend suggested several reasons for passing on the dog, without even meeting him. And I trust my friend’s advice.  So, instead of introducing her to Ricky, I may participate this evening in an NAACP Peace Vigil in Hot Springs, along with several members of my church.


I spent four hours over lunch yesterday with my veterinarian friend. We talked about RVs, the RV lifestyle, moving to new places, selling existing places, political intrusions on friendships, the definitions of friendship, dogs, Unitarian Universalism, the perception that women have the propensity to gossip, the reduced propensity of more highly educated women to gossip, men and their tendency to talk sports and other such stuff that holds no interest for me, cats, parrots, the advisability of getting a dog immediately before a potential move, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, military posts, and a thousand other matters. It was an enjoyable four hours. I learned some fascinating things about her history and experiences and discovered that we have some traits in common, including traits we wish we had corrected before we built our respective businesses. She shared with me some of the pros and cons of life on the road (in an RV), giving me much to consider, if I were to opt to pursue it, even temporarily.

We compared notes about all sorts of things and agreed to do it again sometime soon. I discussed with her my meeting yesterday morning with a real estate agent whose assessment of my home’s value and potential for sales matched another agent’s advice. This agent reiterated that, if I really plan to sell, I better have a plan as to where I will go after the sale. I told her I’ve been looking for small towns that might appeal to me. Though I did not put it in these terms to the agent, I later told my veterinarian friend I was looking for a  Mayberry-type town with easy access to big-city amenities. And I mentioned that I had found several possibilities in Iowa, of all places. I’ve looked in New Mexico and lots of other places, but Iowa seems, at present, to offer many of the things I’m after. Who knew? But, then, there’s Wisconsin, and Minnesota and upper Missouri and a dozen other places. My vet friend and I agreed to get together again soon to compare our assessments.  Wow. I am stunned at what appeals to me in these geezer years.


When I got home, I viewed a text message from another friend who expressed an interest in viewing my ceramic masks (evidence that she read yesterday’s blog) and who offered to visit—and bring wine. That was a propitious message, as I was planning to invite her to join me for conversation about that same topic we recently had discussed (selling homes and moving on) . I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon people like her with whom I am finding more and more in common; maybe not common experiences, but definitely common philosophies and common ideas about things that matter. The problem with discovering these commonalities at this stage of my rapidly evolving life is that I am exploring possibilities that would remove me from her sphere and vice versa. The same is true of my veterinarian friend. Sometimes, I think life consists of intentionally unfair sets of circumstances meant to test our strengths. No need to test me, life, I already know I would fail the strength test.  She is one of the women I wrote about yesterday; one who’s already attached. It matters not. I will enjoy wine and conversation with her anyway. And I might just give her a mask if she decides she wants one. If I’m going to move, I need to unload a lot of this stuff anyway; might as well give it away to people I like and whose company I enjoy. Yes—to anyone who’s thinking it while reading what I wrote—I have a purpose in writing what I’ve just written, knowing my friend probably will read what I wrote. I sometimes have a difficult time expressing orally my appreciation and admiration and affection. For some reason, doing that causes me to get inexplicably emotional. I never advanced beyond near-adolescence with regard to social skills.


So, am I really considering Iowa and Wisconsin and New Mexico and Michigan and…on and on? Yes. I am. At 67 years old, and only half a year left before 68, I recognize I really don’t have much more time to explore new places. I could live to be 100+, but the reality is that I may not even reach 68, so I need to use my time judiciously. As I’ve told a few friends, I wish my family were of a mind to collectively work to build a family compound of sorts…lots of privacy, but space for group gatherings and meal preparation and so forth and so on. But that’s not something that has been received with universal support over the years, so I’m pretty much giving up on it. And I do not know others who would seriously consider creating co-housing communities. So, I look for a different place. An affordable Mayberry type place on the upper Mississippi, perhaps, or a Mayberry type place elsewhere that offers opportunities for friendship, camaraderie, etc. Or elsewhere. Someplace pleasant and kind and welcoming and open. One of the motivating factors in my musings is that the real estate market in Hot Springs Village is the highest and tightest it has been in many years; if I were to sell now, it’s likely I would make back my investment along with a substantial bonus, which would be a nice addition to my retirement funds. Of course, it’s possible the rise in prices will continue for years to come and, by selling, I’d miss out on all that as-yet-unearned appreciation; that doesn’t worry me in the least. I’ve had that experience before and am perfectly happy that I sold my last house when I did.

I’ve been working on a list of issues to explore with regard to any location I might seriously explore, including the following:

  • Monthly temperature average highs and lows (and record highs and lows)
  • Monthly precipitation averages and forms (rain, snow, etc.)
  • Proximity of geologic fault lines
  • Costs of insurances (home, auto, etc.)
  • Local “pests” (like chiggers, ticks, black flies, mosquitoes, etc., etc.)
  • Availability and reliability and quality of service by service providers
  • Cable TV providers (though by no means crucial…cutting the cord with high quality internet is more appealing)
  • Telephone landline providers
  • Cell phone service providers/coverage
  • Land and real estate costs
  • Age demographics
  • Diversity (race, ethnicity, sex, etc.) demographics
  • Openness to diversity of all kinds (which I think correlates with social and political progressiveness)
  • Property taxes
  • Sales tax
  • State income tax
  • Could I raise chickens?
  • Could I have goats?
  • Proximity of UU churches
  • Existence/size/proximity of Democratic Party organization
  • Voting in last presidential election (Biden vs. Trump)
  • Quality and proximity of hospitals/medical care
  • Liquor laws (mostly because I find offensive governmental intrusion into my personal habits under the guise of public safety when the intrusion is based, instead, on religious beliefs)
  • Many, many more to come, I’m sure

All the foregoing notwithstanding, it’s possible I may decide to stay where I am. It’s sometimes easier to let inertia and comfort control one’s life than to spend the energy on adventure and risk. But I’m leaning toward risk. The biggest risk is that I might leave behind me “my people” and discover they are impossible to replicate elsewhere. But, I’ve been mostly alone, except for my wife and a very few now distant friends, for most of my life, so I have experience with it and know I could survive it if I had to.


As I contemplate the possibility of selling and  moving on, it occurs to me that I have committed to joining friends on a trip to Galveston island in early November. That commitment stands, no matter where I am at the time, just in case there’s any question about it.


This morning, I will participate in a live, face-to-face grief support group. The other times I have participated in such groups have been via Zoom, so this will be rather different. It will take place in someone’s home. I don’t know quite what to expect, as I haven’t participated much in grief groups. I guess I’ll find out in a few hours.


I plan on keeping most of next week open so I can accomplish two things that simply won’t get done unless I clear my calendar entirely: First, I need and want to power wash the front doors of my house and, then, power wash the entire deck, screened porch, and all the windows along the back of my house. Second, I plan to spend a lot of time between cleaning to explore the issues I’ve identified with regard to a possible move (the items bulleted above). Clearing my calendar means skipping a “spiritual practices” gathering next week, as well as a men’s gathering, both church events.; most of my social life revolves around the church and/or people in the church. But, I will shower and shave and become sufficiently presentable Friday evening next week to attend a wine and munchies gathering with my old wine group, which has mostly been on hold since the pandemic began. That group includes only a couple of folks from church, proving my social life is not entirely dependent on the church. (Damn near all of it, but not entirely.)


I feel a sense that I will return to writing more about philosophies soon and make this blog less a journal about my personal experiences. I’ve felt that before, though, and it hasn’t panned out. I hope, this time, it will. The exploration of a possible move, I think, will prompt me to examine both intellectual and emotional matters that lend themselves to philosophical examination. I miss both writing about and engaging in conversation about personal and societal philosophies. Those explorations help me grow beyond the end of my nose. Another friend, formerly of my church, regularly articulates his insistence that he needs always to examine his own thinking and his own experiences if he is to move forward in life; and he feels he must move forward or he will begin to slide backward. That’s the way I feel, albeit perhaps within a somewhat different framework. I have to think about things in ways that challenge my beliefs or my assumptions or my own experiences. Writing. That’s how I think. I’m “quicker on my feet” at a keyboard than in a rapid-fire debate. While I enjoy conversation, when it comes to verbal jousting, I feel like I’m wading in cold tar and wet sand, making it impossible for me to be “quick on my feet.” I suppose I would never have made a good lawyer, given my slow thinking verbosity (does that even make sense?).


It’s almost 6:15, well beyond the time I should have taken the hummingbird feeders outside. And I still have to eat breakfast of some kind. And I need to shower, shave, get dressed, and confront the day ahead.  So, in making my plans to make this day another one that’s as fulfilling as yesterday, I turn to my anthology of Zen quotations, which today advises me to take care of my mind:

The mind is very difficult to see,
Very delicate and subtle;
It moves and lands wherever it pleases.
The wise one should guard his mind,
For a guarded mind brings happiness.

~ Dhammapada ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

I wish you would tell me what you think about this post...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.