There is a Crack in Everything

The social fabric is thinning. Fraying and threadbare, tensions on crucial fibers cause rips and tears. Critical seams split, revealing naked bigotry, aggression, hatred, and unchecked fury beneath the cloth. Efforts to mend the damaged protective material repeatedly fail. The cloth cannot be repaired; it must be replaced. The unfortunate reality is that, before that happens, the wounds caused by the underlying bitterness must heal. Or, more likely, be removed by excising or amputation. Regardless of the manner in which the infection is removed, the process will be deeply onerous and extremely challenging. In fact, restoring health may be impossible. The damage done might be so extensive and so pernicious as to require replacement. Or abandonment and surrender.

How bad must the situation be for meteorologists to be threatened with death for asserting that climate change is influencing weather extremes? At what point do the increasingly violent attack against women’s rights to control their own bodies call for open rebellion? When individuals’ rights to religious beliefs—or to dismiss beliefs—are snatched away by force and replaced by demands to accept fundamentalist dogma, is civil unrest and dissolution the only option? Are efforts to mend the rips and tears in the social fabric utterly pointless?  I fear they are. When the only solution seems to be the actual, physical eradication of fascists and other aggressors, the original strength of the social fabric is called into question. An entirely new textile, woven from the equivalent of impossibly strong, unyielding threads, may be the only option. But finding those threads, and devoting the time and energy to use them in sewing a new social contract, may be beyond the capabilities of humans, who themselves are innately flawed. Whatever the solution, or the universal realization that no solution will ever exist, I selfishly hope it occurs long after I am gone. I do not want to watch the further degradation of humanity. I do not want to be party to its extinction. Though perhaps that is best solution; the only one that assures success.


I woke late and spent too much time reading the news. That is a bad, bad, bad habit that tends to ruin what otherwise could have been a reasonably pleasant day. Even before I read news that made my blood boil, I took my blood pressure; it was considerably higher than it should be, even though I have been taking my reduced-dosage blood pressure medication. Perhaps I need to return to a higher dosage. Or maybe I need not to medicate but to meditate. Hibernate. Isolate. Stay away from news about imploding submersibles and Russian war-mongering and insurrections. Avoid learning about the enormity of the problems of homelessness. Steer clear of reporting that deals with rabid, über-conservative politicians and the destruction their policies and politics leave in their wake. Stop getting personally invested in attempting to address matters over which I realistically have little to no control.

In place of these stress-producing activities, I should involve myself in gentler, more comforting pursuits. Hugs. Conversations about the astonishing beauty of the natural environment. Kisses. Daydreaming. Naps. Exploring and evaluating the remarkable tastes of different coffees. Comparing the flavors of foods. Attempting to be as creative as an artist and refusing to judge my own efforts, no matter how unimpressive. Thinking about subjects and topics mundane and esoteric and everything in between. Cleansing the stress-producing thoughts from my brain and replacing them with curative experiences. Perhaps doubling-up on anti-anxiety/anti-depression prescriptions. Eating papayas, flavored with with freshly-squeezed lime juice, for breakfast. Giving marijuana-infused gummies more opportunities to reduce my physical and mental pain.

I have grown to love sitting on the back deck, watching and listening to birds and soaking in the privacy of a home in the forest. But our house is a tiny, quiet, serene refuge in a vast sea of hurricane-force hatred. Therein lies a crucial problem. Living here may be a little like spending time in that ill-fated submersible—experiencing an alluring, quiet adventure that has the potential of suddenly imploding. Buckling under the intense pressure surrounding us. That is why I cannot get rid of the idea of abandoning where I am for someplace more hospitable. As if such a place exists. Though if it does, I cannot afford it. I wish I could find an island, strategically important to no one, with all the creature comforts I crave and access to all the necessities I need and luxuries I want. But would that be enough? There it is, again. Enough. Is anything “enough?” Why can’t we all—me included—be satisfied with what we have? Why can’t we all be willing to share our abundance so that EVERYONE has “enough?” Impossible dreams. The stuff of Don Quixote. “They say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…” John Lennon, the author/poet who wrote those words, was shot dead. By someone with a different dream.


Can I retrieve a reason for living from the emerging morning? We shall see. I probably can. I always do. There is a crack in everything.

About John Swinburn

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