Thinking Through Spider Webs

Finally, I seem to be returning to my “normal” waking habits. Today, I was up around 5. Lately, I’ve awakened at wildly different times, almost all considerably later than has been my typical pattern for years. I’ll attribute the deviance to my monstrous cold. Perhaps I’m finally shaking it. The early rising this morning comes on the heels of a later-than-normal night last night. I hope I’m back to my old routine, though I’d really rather awaken closer to 4 each morning. Those few hours of total seclusion constitute my decompression time.


Once again, I’ve become addicted to a “foreign language” television crime drama. Well, not really. It’s a British crime drama. But the accents and my television’s subpar sound quality conspire to muffle dialogue. So, I’ve turned to subtitles. On an English-language crime drama. Actually, since turning on subtitles, an already riveting program has become even better. The program? Happy Valley, originally released on BBC in the UK and subsequently released by Netflix (which is how I’m able to watch it). I’ve watched all of season one and about half of season two. Only two seasons were produced (in 2014 and 2016). The series is not high art, but it’s well-done television (in my view). The fact that I have only three more episodes to watch is depressing. I should get a television-equipped treadmill so I could get more than entertainment value from watching lengthy television series. What I need is a television that will not work unless I am walking at a speed of at least two miles per hour…maybe three. I would become a night-walker. I think a story might emerge from that thought.


I am even more of an introvert than I have always believed myself to be. I enjoy being with and around people, but my enjoyment has rather strict time limits and short duration. When those limits approach, I either must get away and be alone with my thoughts or I turn cranky, surly, and generally unpleasant to be with, to live with, and just to be, in general. How is it, I wonder, that it has taken me so damn long to figure that out? It’s not like the pattern has ever been hidden beneath a layered puzzle; it’s right out there in the open for the world, including me, to see. But I’ve just now finally been able to understand it. I need time to think, without intrusion. That’s what my morning isolation is all about, I think. Odd, though. It’s as if I’m engaged in conversation with myself, which I can tolerate and in fact often enjoy; during that time, though, conversation with anyone else would be unwelcome. It’s not that I’m unpleasant or unfriendly early in the morning if I don’t have my time in isolation; but if I’m deprived of that time for a long period, I do become edgy and unhappy. How have I not noticed before now?

This new revelation has me thinking about other people and what they might need. What do extroverts need? Do they need interaction with other people around the clock? Do they feel out of sorts if they can’t spend time in conversation on an ongoing basis? I’ll have to ask some extreme extroverts I know. But the timing has to be right.

An artifact of introversion is the tendency to keep things bottled up. Perhaps it’s simply the lack of someone “outside” to talk to. Or maybe it’s that introverts consider some matters personal, even when talking about those matters may be vital to one’s mental well-being. Introversion and isolation go hand-in-hand. Sometimes, the isolation gets out of hand, to the point that the bottle holding those personal matters explodes, leaving a shattered psyche that must be pieced together from shreds of fragile glass. If only the cap had been loosened or removed, the explosion could have been avoided.


I can’t see the point of writing these thoughts over and over and over again, almost every morning. It’s as if I believe writing my thoughts down repeatedly will somehow change them. But maybe writing is an alternative to alcohol; it deadens pain, or at least diverts one’s attention from it. Better to write every morning than to suck on a bottle of vodka at daybreak. Maybe that’s not necessary, though; the wine from the night before may still be in the system. Maybe. Maybe that’s the point of writing the same things, using different words. An author I know once advised us (me and others in the workshop she led) to be brutally honest in our writing. “Write through the pain,” she said. Don’t worry about who might be hurt, she advised, because you’re writing for yourself. As I think back on that, it’s an incredibly selfish attitude. It offers justification for shifting pain from oneself to others. That’s inexcusable, especially if others are innocent bystanders who simply cannot get out of the line of fire before the bullets start flying. Yet I understand what the author was advising us to do. And it makes sense. But only to a point. And only after a very real assessment of damage, both direct and corollary, and the relative good that might come out of the damage. Abstractions. These all are abstractions. You cannot think in practical ways about real consequences when you’re dealing with abstruse abstractions.


I may cut my hair, or my throat, today. I’m not sure which one is needed more. I’ll probably go for the one that’s not particularly painful and costs less. $15, including tip.

These early morning diatribes allow me to blow off steam and to ratchet down the tensions that build during the course of every day. That’s what they are good for. Sometimes fiction is what I need to write, sometimes I need to write stream-of-consciousness drivel. Sometimes it’s poetry. I guess it all serves a purpose of one kind or another. Even though it sometimes seems that I’m thinking my way through masses of spider webs, I suppose it’s worth doing.


About John Swinburn

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