Writing and Thinking and Feeling

We learn about ourselves from our writing. At least some of us do. If we study the words we use in stories and essays we write, we discern patterns that—admittedly beyond the edges of the scientific method—inform us about who we are. We learn our motivations, our fears, our struggles, and our triumphs. Writers may be in a better position than those who do not write to observe, measure, and contemplate the patterns. Written words can be counted, while speech disappears into imprecise memory. Written words offer evidence of who we are and who we have been. The patterns and evolution of the style of written words suggest who we are becoming or will become.

Today, I counted the number of posts in which I used the word “venom.” Eleven. I mentioned in a relatively recent post that my writing also seems to have a love affair with the word ‘detritus.’  If I were a psychologist, I think I’d make something of that. But I’m not and I won’t. Instead, I’ll complain about my corn. Yes, a corn that has effectively sidelined me from walking for exercise or even from wandering the grocery store. Today’s visit to Kroger was agonizing. Tomorrow, I’ll try to make an appointment with a podiatrist. My insurance won’t cover a penny of it; such is life. At times, one must simply choose health and/or the absence of pain instead of low prices.

I can’t announce it yet, but I think there may be big changes on the horizon. Changes I wouldn’t have dreamed of a few months ago. But I may be wrong. You may read my words for month on end without a single “exclusive.” And you probably will. I suspect that suggested “announcement” idea is based purely on a wish for more readership. It’s a classless act, I tell you.

Tonight, I received an email from a friend, a friend who had a devastating stroke several months ago. Early on, after he had the stroke, we were concerned that he might not make it. We visited him in the hospital frequently, though he was unaware of our presence most of the time. Fortunately, he recovered, even better than we expected. He sent a message tonight, saying his wife had read many of our emails to him. He expressed appreciation for our visits and our support. We never expected he’d see those messages. His message tugged at our heart strings in ways we never expected. The flood of tears seems unending. I love the connections between people, especially when those connections create bonds of humanity.

Some mornings, when I write fiction, it’s not fiction. It’s emotion transformed into story. It’s experience modified so that it fits a theme that may or may not mirror actual experience. If I wrote what I actually think and feel, I might be arrested and imprisoned or, even worse, taken to an institution and locked away. But my thoughts are not insanity; they are sanity taken to its logical conclusion. They are reflections of fears and worries and concerns that take root because I see reality before me and it frightens me. Still, for reasons that have no basis in reality, I have hope. I hope decency will return in public discourse. I hope rationality will overcome irrationality. I hope religion will become a respite from reality instead of a distorted interpretation of the real world. I hope people will, finally and without fear, embrace one another as creatures in need of support and love and comfort. While I’m wishing, I might as well wish for unicorns that give out free pudding; that wouldn’t be too bad, though, would it?

Some days, I’m shaken to my core. Some days, I want nothing but to leave this deviant cesspool we call humanity in the mirror. I want to move beyond disgust, toward something better, something more accommodating to decency. I guess that describes most days. One day, I might crack and do something about it. But not yet. I have an eclipse to watch. See, it’s the little things, the wonders of the universe, that matter.

About John Swinburn

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