Thinking as Enterprise

The constant “thrump, thrump, thrump” in my ears is just the internal sound of my heartbeat, sending blood coursing through my body. That racket is especially loud and irritating early in the morning when I sit down to write. The noise causes me to wonder whether my blood pressure is high, causing the hammer and anvil and stirrup inside my ear to vibrate more ferociously than normal. It’s my understanding that the  proper names of those tiny bones, incidentally, are malleus, incus, and stapes. Regardless of what they are called, they seem to vibrate with an annoying frequency when I wake up, as I did today, before 4:00 a.m. But the sounds they create are not the only things I hear inside my head; I “hear” the perpetual nighttime noises that crickets make, as well. I have come to think, though, that what I “hear” is a form of tinnitus, the affliction normally associated with “ringing” in one’s ears. Only, with me, it’s not ringing. It’s the constant chorus of crickets. Fiercely persistent crickets that refuse to be silent, regardless of how much I need that silence. I could really use that silence right now. One should have access to the comfort of pure, unadulterated silence at 4:45 a.m. If it weren’t for my fears of its irreversible nature and the associated pain, I might plunge an icepick in each ear just to attain that blissful absence of noise. For the moment, though, I’ll continue to live with it. Ach!


People remain unknowable to us, even people that we’re very close to. And I think the same goes for our own selves.

~ Katie Kitamura ~

I’ve tried hard my entire life to know myself, though always understanding deep down the effort was pointless. That remains true today. I keep trying, even in the near certainty the attempts are futile. But the harder I try and the more certain I am the endeavor is a waste of time and energy, the more desperately I seek to know the unknowable. That unpleasant circularity is a trademark of either stupidity or madness; I’m not sure which. I suppose I hold onto the hope that one day I will find a crack in the vault behind which I might find the answer. And I hope I can chip away at that crack until it become a chasm through which I can climb into the “chamber of answers.” That illogical hunger, the equivalent of seeking nutrition from a rock, is what leads to religion in its many forms, I suspect. Idiocy, on one hand, spiritual tenderness, on the other. Somewhere in the middle, most of humankind practices an odd form of imbecilic spirituality; unquestioning belief in the divinity of a tale originally spun as a bedtime story.


Last night, for dinner, I made an ad hoc variation of a Greek roasted vegetable dish. The recipe I had, one I made years ago before we moved away from Dallas, called for eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, potatoes, zucchini, garlic, and various spices, lots of olive oil, etc. I did not have bell peppers or zucchini, but I opted to make a version of the dish anyway. I added small sliced portabella mushrooms. And, at the suggestion of my IC, I shaved some mozzarella and added it atop the nearly-cooked veggies toward the end of the roasting period. After roasting the veggies, we let them cool. With a little red wine, the meal was outstanding. Both of us commented that we could eat the dish several times a week and be happy about it. And we may just do that as we enter the new year. Both of us, feeling bloated and stuffed after a lengthy period of over-indulgence that has culminated these last two weeks of 2021, have decided we will make the transition to a healthier lifestyle when the food festivities of late 2021 are behind us. Better food and drink (and less of it), exercise, and intention; that’s what will make our lives more enjoyable as we plunge ahead into the unknowable future.


My brother’s health continues to weigh heavily on my mind, though there’s essentially nothing I can do to change it. His health rests with medical professionals and with his own body’s ability to recover from the maladies afflicting him. In spite of the thousands of thoughts that fill my head about what he’s going through, I cannot seem to fashion those thoughts into coherent sentences that can even begin to explain my thinking or my emotions. Sometimes, my ability to express myself withers into dry dust. No matter what I feel, I cannot seem to put it into words. That’s an odd sensation for me; one I dislike with an intensity that’s rare even for me.


The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

~ William Butler Yeats ~

I read an article from The Irish Times about intensity. The writer, Patsy McGarry, argues that “He was not saying it is a feature of human behaviour that the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.” McGarry explain why he thinks Yeats was making an observation only about a particular time and place. I wonder whether McGarry knows more about Yeats than Yeats knew about himself. Probably not.

Intensity can be both an attractive quality in a person and a precursor to his utter devastation. In light of misplaced intensity, as is the case when a person fervently believes in his own position but discovers his position is completely wrong, the characteristic is not a strength. Instead, it is a weakness of almost heroic proportion. It is the Titanic of self-confidence. In such cases, intensity morphs into personal despair and the complete distrust of one’s own intellectual competence.


I gave my IC’s dog a bath yesterday. I’m afraid the lovely little beast tends to stink. Only a few days after a bath, he smells a little like the End of Time wearing a cologne of rotted hope and spoiled children. So, he needs frequently cleansing. As I washed the monster, I pitied him while he stood shivering in the sink. After I lathered him up and rinsed the soap from him, I wrapped him in a towel to dry him as well as I could. I then used a hair dryer to blow warm air on his coat. Before long, he was dry and once again fluffy. His odor was again tolerable. And after his bath, he was extremely energetic. You’d have thought I gave him a dose of doggie speed.  After that experience, though, I think I understand why people take their dogs to groomers for baths. It’s not a particularly enjoyable experience for either the dog or the bath-master.


I have a love-hat relationship with hats. I like them. I can love them, in fact. But I have always thought hats look bad on me. Or, rather, I look bad with hats on me. For that matter, it’s probably not the hat. But the hat accentuates the obvious. And there’s no reason to do that if it’s not absolutely necessary. But I like hats, nonetheless. I am particularly fond of fedoras. And newsboy caps. And I like Panama hats and bowlers. And pork pies. But not on me. None of them. But I do wear hats on occasion. In the winter, mostly. Even though I think they look good on other men, most hats make me look like I’m trying to be someone I’m not. In other words, hats on me say “FAKE.” But I wear them anyway. Which means either I’m fake or I don’t care whether people think I’m fake or not. Hard to say which.


If I were to eat breakfast this morning, which I probably will, I might think about bacon. Thinking should be an enterprise. If it involves bacon, I would be willing to call it an enterprise. And so I will.

About John Swinburn

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