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Curses and maledictions! Big damns and little damns!  Before I go overboard, I should allow the assessment to play out. I should chill. Take time to permit the universe to adjust itself. Give circumstances a chance to shrug off prospective waves of anger and other forms of upset. Relax. Take a deep breath or two. Let my pent-up annoyance behave like an ice-cube on hot pavement; first it melts, then it disappears into the ether.

I will try. I will do my best. Because doing otherwise would be a waste of energy, time, and mental resources. I cannot change the past; only the present and the future are within my sphere of influence. What I do in this and in succeeding moments will govern my mood as the day progresses. The days, perhaps. Plural. Okay.

I choose to flow. Not to sprint, not to stumble and trip and fall, but to slide and glide. To become a instrument of time, like a clock that measures the distance between then and now. “Then” can be both yesterday and tomorrow—and all their close and distant cousins. Which ones matter not. All of them flow into one another, with no natural distinctions between them. Yesterday and today and tomorrow exist simultaneously. And so do I; the me of yesterday is the same me as the me of today and the me of tomorrow. Just like time, I am the same, but with different names and different experiences.

All this philosophical mumbling evolved from dashboard lights. Warning lights. Unwanted illuminations. And an odd cyclical “hum” I heard or felt or otherwise sensed. A clerk at a nearby auto parts store attempted to check error codes by attaching a diagnostic device. The device was not sufficiently sophisticated, the guy said, to tell him anything other than “something is amiss.” He said a more precise diagnosis would need a more advanced diagnostic tool, the sort only a modern automotive repair shop would have on hand. I learned, from a call to a nearby repair shop, that no time slots are available today. Tomorrow morning is the first available time slot. So I will wait. And I will not worry. Even though the timing conflicts with other things I had planned to do. Oh, well. If it’s something minor, great. If it’s something more involved (and more expensive), I’ll just deal with it. Life goes on. Planet Earth continues to spin. Either way, I will adjust appropriately. I hope.


Feeling a permanent sense of loneliness may act as a form of chronic stress, according to Turhan Canli, a professor of integrative neuroscience in the department of psychology at New York’s Stony Brook University. That’s what reports. Loneliness is not necessarily the same thing as isolation, by the way. A person can feel lonely even when surrounded by other people; even when surrounded by friends or family. Loneliness is internal. Loneliness, according to a study of the effects of loneliness on health, “refers to the subjective distress people feel if there’s a discrepancy between the quality of social relationships they actually have and what they want.” Subjective is the operative word, I imagine. I suspect a reliable objective measure of loneliness does not exist. I guess only individuals can determine their own loneliness, or lack thereof. Yet we observe other people and make our own subjective assessments as to their loneliness; even the depth or extent of the condition. Is that subjective determination indicative of arrogance? Or is it empathy or compassion? Or, perhaps, both? I do not know and won’t even hazard a guess. At least not publicly. But I have an opinion or two, which could conflict with itself or one another.


The missing submersible that was intended to take wealthy adventurers to see the wreckage of the Titanic is the subject of a massive search. I hope it is found, quickly, and the five people aboard are safely rescued. The extent and expense of the search raises a series of questions—questions I have each time a major search and rescue operation is launched. At what point is the expense or the effort “too great?” Is money no object? Or is there a point beyond which the expense associated with either searching or rescuing simply more than “we” are willing to give? “We” is my generic term for “the powers that be.” I suspect the families of the missing adventurers would insist that no limits be placed on bringing their loved ones safely back to the surface. Are “we” willing to devote the full capabilities of two navies to the effort? If not, would we be willing to do so if the number of missing had been five hundred, instead of five? Ethics and morality and compassion and economics and equality and equity and a thousand other considerations must be involved in such considerations. Selfishly, I am glad I am not responsible for making such decisions. My hypothetical response might be quite different from my response in a real-world situation.


I am testing a pair of hearing aids. So far, I am not at all fond of them. The only positive, thus far, is that they sync with my smart phone, dramatically improving the clarity of hearing the voices on the other end of the call. Except for occasional static. Otherwise, they seem only to make sounds louder, but not any clearer. I will try them, off and on, for a week. Perhaps my assessment will change. Perhaps not.


Tuesday. The local paper should be online. What news might it report that I want to hear?

About John Swinburn

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