Stormin' Bob Swanson

Blogging Bob

Non-essential existential blues

Henry and I finally free from COVID-quarantine

There’s nothing like a breakthrough case of COVID, a week of isolation, and couple of weeks of quarantine to give this philosophy major/songwriter plenty of grist for the mental mill. I have to give a lot of credit where it is due — the scientists who developed the vaccine, and the nurse practitioner who prescribed the “COVID cocktail” medications, that made my bout with the virus little more than a mild inconvenience. My hat is off to the many healthcare workers tending tirelessly to my fellow Mississippians who are experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

Even before the pandemic made its presence felt in my household, the thought often crossed my mind how non-essential what I do is compared to people who actually help people. Many of you know me as a children’s songwriter/entertainer. Others of you know me as a science teacher. While I love both of these jobs, neither is essential in the way an EMT, ICU nurse, emergency room doctor is. My work is, and has always been, non-essential. No one needs to learn the moon phases or the “four horsemen” of fluid dynamics. Even less essential are the silly songs I write — the world would get along just fine if I had never written “The Weather Wiggle,” or if I never write another song again.

Don’t worry — I’ll continue to teach science and write songs and, when I can, do both at the same time. But this line of thinking reminds me of a song that I remember from my teenage years listening to Dr. Demento — “Existential Blues” by Tom “T-Bone” Stankus.

Here’s a link to the video —

One lesson learned from my quarantine — a lot of people are essential to me. My wife is absolutely essential. She took care of everything while I was isolating for a week in our master bedroom — all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the arranging to have schoolwork available for my boys who were unexpectedly having to virtual school again (after only two days back in the classroom), etc. My boys are essential. I really missed the simple moments of our day — fixing them breakfast, tossing a baseball, reading aloud to them. My community is essential — neighbors, friends and family brought by food, picked up groceries and just checked in by phone, text or social media.

And I guess the fact that they all seem pleased to have me back means that I’m essential to them too.


  1. Beautifully stated and so true Bob. You’re essential in my life as well. Glad you and your family are well and hope everyone stays that way.

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