Swinging Around Again

Photo courtesy Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, Wikimedia Commons



Another swing around the sun, so I will try again to define what I have tried before: Let’s say you have good health and time. A clean little space, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, a bed that does not hurt your back, a fridge with nutritious food. You are not in debt and do not have to labor at the moment. You are not lonely. You have a phone and a library card.

What do you do with your days?

Because there have been brief periods in my life where I had freedom, I know I have a hard time being still. I want to have achieved, I want to know, I want to have, my desires muttered. I want to see something different. I want to go to Vietnam, I want to meet my father, I want to make sense of things, I want to see how things are even when I do not like them. Want want.

At the same time there are people who would lie on that bed the rest of their lives, looking at that phone, and to hell with that.

We wait to hear the good word on a cosmic or personal scale to know we have passed the course, made the grade, seen the light, enjoyed the most. We may be as meaningless as dust on a television, but pines grow among their neighbors in such dust. We are free to hope.

The circuit around the sun is not nothing, as some are saying on social media. It means crops, light, warmth, and (to me) gratitude for being included. As the earth tilts and time swings on, what will you do or do without? Among whom will you be counted? What are your definitions, your hopes?

Happiest of New Years from all of us at The Common Reader!

John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, The Age of Clear Profit: Essays on Home and the Narrow Road (UGA Press 2022). His previous collection was Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life. He has also published a novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, and a narrative nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City. He was the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press. His work has been included and listed as notable in Best American anthologies.