Winter Begins in Earnest

Today is the winter solstice, when one of the Earth’s poles reaches its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This is the day with the northern hemisphere’s shortest period of daylight and the longest night. Perhaps I would have figured that out on my own, had I lived four or five hundred years ago. Today, though, I take it on faith. Belief. Trust in the astronomers who understand the solar system far better than I ever will.

I might not have trusted astronomy (science), had I not been taught the value of the Scientific Method. I might have placed my confidence in religious figures, instead, having been taught of the infallibility of a deity and “his” chosen “priests,” for lack of a better term. Or I might have been inculcated with the mysterious “truths” of the invisible gremlins of the forests and their handlers.

I wonder how our descendants, a thousand years hence, will mock us for our unsophisticated misunderstanding of the universe? I suppose I will not be here to find out.


I hate it when I sleep in, as I did today. Almost 6:30. Hours I could have put to good use; gone forever. That perspective on time tends to make me panic; I am losing some of the limited time available to me with each passing second. Whether I put it to good use or not, first it’s here, then it’s gone. Forever. Never to be retrieved. Never. Ever. Ever.

More than one perspective is available, of course. There’s the one that says, “I can’t get it back, so it’s pointless to miss it.” And there’s the other that says, “If I don’t put every moment to good use, I’ve lost that chance forever, and I will regret that squandered opportunity for all remaining time.” Or something like that.

It occurs to me that I have wasted more than a few moments by writing about them as if they mattered.


When I am surrounded for more than a day or two at a time by people (that is, more than one person) I do not know well, I begin feeling on edge. When the time extends beyond three or four days, my anxiety transforms into displeasure. After a little more time has passed, displeasure might turn into overt surliness. Eventually, anger could replace the surliness. With enough time, I suppose, anger might morph into rage. Fortunately, I think I’ve maxed out at anxiety. My innate introversion seems to be getting more pronounced, in some senses, in my advancing years. I value privacy far more today than I did fifty years ago. I wonder, am I alone in my personality becoming more hardened into its original core as I age?


And so Wednesday begins. And so Winter begins. The forecast for tomorrow night and Friday is brutal. Temperatures dropping to within a few degrees of zero. I may have to move to Ecuador.

About John Swinburn

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