Unplanned Appreciation

Had traffic have been considerably lighter, I might have pulled to the side of the road to stare at the sky. But I was driving on a relatively busy four-lane divided highway, so I could not safely pull over. I had to be satisfied with periodically glancing upward at the spectacle. The sight that so captivated me consisted of dozens of clumps of nearly-stationary clouds against the clear blue sky and—far above the clouds—several fading contrails of airplanes. The translucent white condensate appeared to be moving horizontally at considerable speed above the clouds, as if the air surrounding the contrails moved them in unison. What fascinated me was the appearance that the contrails were moving at high speed, perpendicular to the direction of the jets that left them. In trying to understand what I was seeing, I came to the conclusion that the contrails were caught in the jet stream, which sped them horizontally across the sky—the clouds below them, if they moved at all, moved across the sky at a far more leisurely pace. For some reason, witnessing the visible intersection between natural phenomena and humans’ manipulation of the sky left me mesmerized. I was awestruck by something I may have seen hundreds of times before but, until yesterday, I had failed to notice. I wish I had been able to get a better, more intense, look at the phenomenon, but those fleeting glances were enough to leave me amazed and delighted. Life can deliver remarkable surprises.


On several occasions, I’ve used or dedicated a post to an adage my mother used to say when referring to someone less fortunate: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Ten years ago last January, I did a bit of research into and wrote about its origin. I learned that John Bradford, who was burned at the stake on January 31, 1555, spoke those words when he watched as men were led by, on their way to their own executions. For me, the phrase has become a secular acknowledgement that I have escaped unpleasant circumstances that have befallen others. The frequency with which I have chosen to use the adage suggests to me that it holds a special meaning to me; more than the “average” trite expression.


I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.

~ Anne Lamott ~


We have been watching a series, American Rust, in which Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney (among others) star. The first season was produced by Showtime; the second (which we just started watching) by Amazon Prime. I enjoyed the first season; the second seems to me, so far, almost like a different and considerably less engaging series. I should not judge it quite yet, so I’ll give it a more thorough chance. For some reason, I find Maura Tierney quite attractive, even though I cannot articulate just what I find attractive about her…she’s not especially appealing, physically, but there’s something…


My expected five-hour series of tests yesterday lasted only two and a half hours. The schedule I was given and the descriptions I had read suggested the longer period. I was quite happy to finish in half the time I had expected. The cardiologist has not yet called me to discuss the results, but her written assessments I read on my patient portal seem to confirm that my heart is healthy, save for a few very minor and very common glitches that merit no significant concern. I will, of course, wait to celebrate until the doctor calls, but I feel confident that I will have reason to celebrate. I hope so, anyway.


Gratitude is a welcome emotion.


About John Swinburn

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