Rendered Fat Content


Martin Schongauer: The Griffin (c. 1480–90)

" … some days seem to need almost the whole day to recover …"

I often forget about the DangerousPlaces my work compels me into. I engage almost blithely, innocently exploring when I might more thoughtfully engage. I consider my manner of engaging anything but calloused, for I firmly believe that one must never become cynical. I hold myself to knowing enough to justify cynicism but choosing not to become cynical as my way to get even or stay balanced. This sometimes works. Cynicism happens when life wounds an optimist, innocence disappoints, and a certain kind of ignorance takes preference. Cynicism produces self-inflicted first-degree knife wounds that seem to be the devil's own work to heal. Better to become a Griffin's dinner than to live a cynical existence.

These DangerousPlaces sometimes deeply wound me.
The Muse could attest that I cannot hardly manage to leave my bed some days. When she asks me if I'm okay, I reply uncertainly that I feel okay-ish, for I've wrestled with this fish before, and I know my opponent. I'm mostly just scared then, rarely genuinely terrified, but more numbed with the recognition of how foolhardy I've been. My enemies, who, like my friends, mostly live inside me, sometimes find me exposed, and they might relish the opportunity to take a hunk out of me while they have the chance. Their stark brutality always shocks me and sets me back on my heels. Okay-ish seems a pretty strong response, considering the shock from which I'm recovering.

I never could keep myself from scratching itches or prying loose scabs, even though neither practice promotes healing. They each prolong the healing process and extend the pain, though they also provide some blessed distraction from the same old same. I tend to mention when I notice the emperor butt naked again, and not everyone appreciates my reportage. I have a long history of tilting at windmills, too, insisting that I'm just trying to make the world better for my presence. However, my behavior sometimes seems more dedicated to ensuring my earlier absence. I work hard to often little effect. I also slack off in the face of inescapable choices, delaying progress without terribly good reasons. I drag my feet into every fresh season.

Someone recently asked me if I wrote for a living, and I replied that I didn't, that I write to live. My writing has never financially supported me, and I quite honestly never believed it could. I eventually came to believe that it shouldn't financially support me and that financial support might be well beneath my work's highest potential. The Muse insisted upon serving as my patron so that I could focus my efforts on living rather than upon failing to make a living writing. I would have been writing either way and would have been no more or less successful, I suspect, regardless. Expecting my work to make a living for me makes about as much sense as basing my career on buying lottery tickets, maybe worse. It's all DangerousPlaces offering unsettling choices, then choosing.

Having chosen, my fate extends before me—some mornings, I wish for different than a two o'clock alarm followed by disturbing voices and unsettling choices. The world seems to slumber while I humbly engage in solving my slow-motion mysteries. I'm no detective, perhaps the victim. I could realistically be any character except that damned prophetic dog that never barked. If anything, I'm more likely the dog that couldn't stop barking even when he found himself in DangerousPlaces demanding stealth. More than ignorance, innocence propels me forward and never along any straight or narrow path. My path's crooked and broad with corners impossible to successfully see around. I continually surprise myself with what I discover, and some days seem to need almost the whole day to recover from my meandering early morning wanderings into DangerousPlaces again.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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