Think of Feathers

Yesterday, I replaced my cell phone with a much, much newer model of the same brand and same series (my old phone’s battery lasted only a few hours on full charge). Though most of the data were transferred from my old phone to the new, some applications will require human intervention to complete the process. I will need a new case; as it is, naked, the device is too thin and too slippery. My old case, though properly sized, will not work with the new one because lenses and button have been relocated; the holes in the case, which give me access to the buttons and lenses, are not synchronized between the two cell phones.

When are we going to agree on a new term that better describes what we now call cell phones? Those terms long ago ceased having legitimacy. How long did it take to replace horseless carriage with car or automobile? I do not know, but I doubt it took as long as it seems to be taking to select one or more new words to describe the instrument we use to make and telephone calls, send and receive text messages, listen to music, play literally hundreds (or more) games, take classes, engage in face-to-face meetings and other such communication, participate in guided meditation, perform mathematic and algebraic functions, learn languages, watch television and films, and many, many more experiences. Perhaps something as simple as second cerebellum would work…but it’s too long and the cerebellum is involved primarily with gait, posture, muscle tone, and the like. The fontal lobe is the thought processing part of the brain, which would be more appropriate, I think. (I once knew the functions of both the cerebellum and the fontal lobe, but I’ve long since let that knowledge slip; sadly, I had to look them up.)

Hmm. These instruments do not simply supplement brain functions; often, they exceed them (consider speed of calculating algebraic equations). And these devices can identify stars and planets simply by pointing their screens toward the sky. And they can identify birds (and other wildlife, I seem to recall) simply by listening to them. The devices represent, in many ways, enhancements and addenda to our capabilities and knowledge. I hope to develop an appropriate neologism soon; I thought I could do it this morning, but my mind is not working. I might try an AI app, but that would be cheating…wouldn’t it? Or would that be an appropriate use for these electronic marvels that quickly are replacing our need for a functioning brain? Wait. The term does not have to be based on anything; it can be created simply by arranging letters in a previously unused (or rarely used), but pronounceable, order. Something like scorvest. Or blisket. Or stankel. Or shnuck. I must be partial to “s” words.


By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

~ Confucius ~


Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. I will be busy doing other things. Sleeping, perhaps. Or putzing around the house. Or pretty much anything else. I do not deny that the Super Bowl is an extraordinarily attractive event for many, many people. Just not me. Mi novia is not quite as disinterested as I, but I don’t expect her to want to watch it. It’s not just the Super Bowl l. The same thing applies to The World Series. And the tennis championships (I looked them up): Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open. And the rest. My interest in sports has always been quite low. Though I have on occasion enjoyed a baseball game (in a stadium, not on television) and there have been times I’ve been intrigued by televised soccer games (for about 20 minutes). I sometimes wish I had an interest in some of the team sports that it seems most American men have a keen interest. I wish I could even feign an interest; enough to converse with guys who are into the sport. My utter lack of interest in sports is one of the reasons I generally am not successful in developing friendships, I think. Talk about sports, I suspect, is one of the most common introductory discussions between men; those discussions evolve into other topics, I imagine, that further develop into the meat and potatoes of friendship. Without the introductory component, the rest often fail to materialize. But I have a strong suspicion that, even if I were a team sports aficionado, I would find that I do not share many interests beyond that cluster. I have no interest in hunting, I’ve lost my youthful interest in fishing, I do not ride a motorcycle (mi novia would have me chained to 700 pound concrete block if I tried). I realize, of course, many men probably have interests that parallel mine, but getting there so often requires wading through the areas that I find boring. I don’t wade well, so I rarely get to those shared interests. I’ve written about this topic too many times. It’s beginning to bore even me; I cannot imagine how insufferable it must be to readers who have encountered it so many times. My apologies. I’ll move on.


We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.

~ Max de Pree ~


I think we’re always afraid, whether we know it or—acknowledge it—or not. Fear drives us to a much greater extent than we think. It is wrapped around inside us like a venomous snake, ready to strike. But it hides from us, concealing its presence often enough that we experience it only on occasion. The fact that it springs on us quickly is evidence that it is already there, waiting. We’re afraid of living the way we live. We’re afraid of dying. We’re afraid of offending people. We’re afraid of people offending us. We’re afraid of an autocracy, a dictatorship…even when we live in one hidden right in front of us. We’re afraid of what we think. And of what we fail to think. We’re not paranoid, though. We have reason to fear the world around us and the world inside us. No matter how hard we fight them, they will win the war, no matter how many times we win the battles. Yet, we know the outcome from the start. We spend our lives trying to change the inevitable. The inevitable, we finally come to understand, cannot be changed. But our efforts to accomplish that impossible task fill us with enjoyment along the way. “Pleasure, with pain for leaven.” Or vice versa. It is always to our benefit to engage in the battle, regardless of the fear; because we do win plenty of battles.


Feathers. Think of feathers today. Why not?

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life, it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the man come and take you away

~ Verse 4 of For What It’s Worth, written by Stephen Stills and performed by Buffalo Springfield ~

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Think of Feathers

  1. Ach, Sue, I’m so sorry to hear of your daughter’s horribly upsetting, truly traumatic loss. I can only imagine how painful the experience must be for her and how deeply she must be affected by such a sudden, unexpected ordeal. I think we all, to some extend, harbor fear of such powerful, painful loss, knowing it is inevitable, but hoping it never visits us. I hope her pain diminishes to the point of tolerance, at least, as quickly and completely as possible; but of course it, like all such bitter pain, can never completely disappear. I think all you can do is be there for her, which I imagine is exactly what she needs right now. Fear is a beast that’s always with us; maybe that’s good, to some extent, in that the surprises it springs on us is at least not completely unexpected.

  2. Sue says:

    I love your last words about fear. Our daughter just lost her beloved dog of 11 years unexpectedly at the groomer this week. Her best friend, companion, “child” gone in an instant. She’s reliving the horror of his last minutes, and over-whelmed with guilt, “why did I take him there?” over and over in her thoughts. Driving her car through Dallas traffic, racing, hoping to get there in time when she got the call “he stopped breathing”.
    She’s paralyzed with PTSD like symptoms, afraid to go into her apartment (he was always waiting to greet her), afraid to drive by City Dog where she took him to be groomed which is right across from where she lives.
    Afraid to even drive her car now, as she had to transport him to an emergency vet 20 minutes away in her car and he was basically already gone, the groomer holding him in a towel. She never got to say goodbye….he was happy that morning, running, searching for his special treats she hid for him to hunt and find, and now panic attacks haunt her.
    She’s with us now while she tries to sort this out from a different perspective.
    We’re sad and suffering watching her decide what she’s going to do.’s day 4, and she’s doing better here but the pain and trauma and fear is real.

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