Rendered Fat Content


Banksy: French Maid, 2008 (Shoreditch, London street art)
"I could claim to be adapting, but I'm more emphatically faking it for now …"

I peer into my shaving mirror and see an aging Emeritus Professor of Ancient Languages in dire need of a haircut peering back out at me. I search, it seems, in vain for my usual cues while standing at something resembling parade rest, wondering where my initiative went. The season seems to be moving as seasons do, inexorably into, while I wait like a hesitant jump-roper to leap into each new day. I can't seem to find the old rhythm most days, and even when I catch a glimpse of it, the old timing seems somehow off and I'm caught tripping over my three left feet. In pre-pandemic days, my god-given two left feet seemed to serve me well enough. That third one, apparently sprouted since the disruption, often renders me flummoxed and confused. I usually find no clear clue what I should do next, … or before, either.

Some so-called primitive cultures forbade mirrors, claiming that they encourage unseemly vanity and worse, that they might steal souls.
I found mine useful for simple orientation. Mornings, I could check in with the mirror to see who I might have woken up as, confirming that I had not become a changeling overnight. I never preened before mirrors before the shutdown, but now, I cannot seem to find much semblance of myself in there. I find a curious window with an alien mugging at me from just beyond my reach. I feel as though I move without my shadow attached, separated from some essence of myself, absent clear Eyedentity.

Of all the basic human capabilities, the mustering of identity seems most fundamental, for it seems to serve as the baseline from which all engagement originates. Without a fairly solid sense of self, all action seems somehow dissociative, separate from an actual initiator. We use the trite term 'running around like a chicken with its head cut off' to describe people suffering from this disorder, though this particular disorder seems of a distinctly different order. Searching for its root usually becomes like listening for the dog that's not barking, an expedition attempting to locate nothing, for a fundamental absence seems the root cause. No sensory cue should properly lead you to find any cause, for an absent Eyedentity simply isn't, it's root cause utterly lost without a trace.

I consequently catch myself bracing for each new sequestered day, knowing that I must somehow find my way through it anyway. My usual anticipations distrust my ability to fulfill them, expecting some insurmountable barricade between here and there. My old reliable habits and routines no longer predictably produce, and I feel at permanent loose ends. I feel in flux, not at present moving toward, hardly feeling present at all. A few small replacement rituals seem to be emerging, but they're hardly adequate replacements for lifelong experience, for these hardly know how to walk yet and the old ones routinely danced.

The pandemic introduced an arrhythmia into my life, and probably into your life as well. I properly anticipate a future time when my old reliables return into relevance, though as weeks leak by, I more clearly realize that I most probably deceive myself with such expectations. I am not now, nor have I ever been, above deceiving myself to survive fallow times. I can and have done survival mode, though I find few elements of it worthy of heart-felt recommendation. I could claim to be adapting, but I'm more emphatically faking it for now, for this aging Emeritus Professor of Ancient Languages in dire need of a haircut doesn't quite see himself as present at the present time. My mirror can't lie.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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