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Franz Marc: Blue Horse I, 1911
"Onward, not necessarily always upward!"

I understand that I'm supposed to be Bettering myself, but I struggle with sustaining even the barest semblance of my current status quo. It's not that I'm not Absolutely Dedicated To Achieving Excellence, it's more that I sense that I might just have already managed to mostly achieve good enough—if not for government work, then perhaps for mine. I've been told of the necessity for continuous improvement but doubt the proposition that every damned instance begs for Bettering. Could good enough never be … good enough? I understand that I could be better than I are, swinging on some star and all that, but the consequent paranoia seems a poor reward. If I'm not endlessly Bettering, will I never get no satisfaction? And if I am endlessly Bettering, does that not strongly suggest that I'm not yet worthy of achieving any satisfying anything? Where's the satisfaction in that endless Bettering? Continuous Bettering seems roughly equivalent to simply giving up, acquiescing to endless short-comings, never really done. How fun does that sound?

We say that we're a striving society, but we seem more of an exhausted one, or, maybe, simply fed up.
Do we really aspire for yet another improvement? Ever better Cheerios® make nobody's world better. Always another milestone ahead. Have we agreed to enter a pie eating contest where the reward for winning earns us another pie? Why? I'm moved to wonder why?

I don't very often seek improvement, but difference. Yesterday's essay is already history, and it stands all on its own there. Today aches not for improvement, but for something different, not any recycled anything in a shiny new box, but something unorthodox, something risking being much worse than anything that came before. I have not become a better writer, just a more experienced one, but mine's a curious experience, for each instance starts afresh with nothing but a blank sheet of paper and an unlikely inspiration. My first aspiration involves nothing more than finding a fresh toehold, and those I've already used only distract and confuse me. Tabula Rasa into Tabula Inscripta again and again and again. I rely upon someone else to start with my Tabula Inscripta, I'm finished with it by then. It's already had its way with me and sucked all of that particular goodie out of me. I'm done with that one.

Evolution works on such achingly long cycles, that relying upon some socially-engineered form of it seems at best naive, destined to produce millennia-long undertakings. I accept, that in an engineering context, incremental improvement makes much sense, but in most others, the expectation bothers me, and deeply. I am no longer innocent enough to even intend to create a perfect anything, except through post-hoc interpretation. I cannot reasonably strive for perfection, a hopelessly Utopian intention, so I deign some creations "perfect enough," which means 'perhaps not absolute perfection, but as done as done seems to get this time.' Once I'm done with something, I'm learning to move on. Another creation's aching for manifestation, and should I hover over anything already perfect enough, I stifle fresh different stuff. Each completion rewards me with another blank sheet and an opportunity to meet something I might have never imagined before. Continuously improving seems simply boring in comparison.

Early in the Twentieth Century, Kandinsky created a whole
movement dedicated to rejecting his earlier accomplishments, which had been considerable. His intention was not necessarily improvement, but difference. He'd grown tired of improving upon his prior achievements, so he blew them up and headed in a radically different direction, with only history to judge his wisdom or folly. This seems to be the way real difference, and sometimes genuine improvement, comes into being, not usually by the curious means of continuous improvement. When dealing with difference, no guarantees consent to engagement. The next instance might well be worse, but it's this manner of engaging that seems more inventive. Better mousetraps have already been overdone. How might it be to conceive of how we might go about never needing to buy another one? Just wondering.

Friday's come again to remind me to peek back on my writing week just passing, a period that perhaps stands as a testament against the concept and practice of continuous improvement.

I began the week noticing a certain
Hollowing encroaching upon my experience. I'd achieved something but received no cue to commence celebrating. No satisfaction seems to be its own curious reward.

The Muse and I decided to counter that encroaching Hollowing by engaging in some dedicated
Homering, rearranging our space to replace what had recently moved on.

I next considered our Bias For BIG in
TinyTyranny, noticing how the truly tiny tends to slip right past our defenses, like what's happened with This Damned Pandemic.

My political screed of the week decried our election season
FreedomOfScreech, where speech loses its civility in favor of employing an utterly unlikely utility. Screeching improves nothing, though writing about screeching produced my most popular posting of this period.

I next took a more personal tone, describing the part of my profession that I usually shun in
Queryering. I successfully sent a query letter out into the ether this week, a months-long undertaking culminating with me finding a glaring typo in the final paragraph of it, five minutes after I'd irrecoverably sent it; an enduring testament to my usual kind of continuous improvement. Better luck next time, perhaps.

I took myself to task in
MediaDerangementSyndrome for my intermittent bouts of media abuse. I'm capable of sometimes playing Chop Sticks with two fingers as if everyone else in the multipurpose room might want to hear me to play it. I apologize.

I ended my writing week with an obviously unimproved piece, where I considered the practice of
Openness, or the absence thereof.

This week proved different from every week before it, and my daily essays seemed to reverberate my experience. I cannot explain where the content came from, except to say that each piece might have emerged from some semi-desperate experience. Each morning, I was cornered without the dubious support of any intention of engaging in continuous improvement, I settled for difference instead. Once difference becomes the purpose, 'perfect enough' becomes the reward. Onward, not necessarily always upward! Thank you again for following along with my investigations here.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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