Rendered Fat Content


Franz de Paula Ferg: The Building of Noah's Ark (ca. 1730)
"I might most become myself there where my usual controls and inhibitions hold little currency."

After eons of prep work, The Porch stands ready to accept paint this morning. By day's end, if I'm lucky and diligent, I might replace the hanging fuchsia baskets, move the geezer rockers up from the gazebo (geezerabo?) and get on with fresh Infinities. This job, so simple-seeming at the start, turned complicated as soon as I set my hands on it. Ain't that the way of this world? Even small distances mislead both eye and imagination and large distances mislead even more. From exile, I easily imagined myself cutting through one SettlingInto job after another, like the proverbial hot knife through soft butter, but up close and intensely personal, gravity influences more deeply. Physics asserts her immutable laws and a perfectly acceptable naive notion turns into another Infinity. Infinities appear when it starts becoming clear just what an effort might actually entail. Some grand complication comes into focus and the timeline goes to Hell. I suddenly don't quite know how to accomplish what I'd set out to finish and I've already started. No way to turn around and not start then. I'm committed to what first seemed like a finite effort but which now seems infinite. The Infinities have found me.

My father, who, if anything, was a most dedicated worker, taught me how to deal with Infinities.
He would counsel me to just stick with it. It seems hopeless. That's no reason to abandon all hope but probably reason to muster even more just then. It seems endless, but then so does almost everything. We poke into Infinities constantly, heading out into the world with little more than vague notions of where we're going or how we might return. Call it a diversion, an entertainment, a performance, or maybe just a curious dance. We don't, fortunately, experience an Oh, Shit! moment every day, but still frequently enough to recognize their presence and to mostly not completely lose our minds when they come. Infinities follow. There, we productively fake it while hoping to make it, uncertain if we will. Just sticking with it seems excellent advice under these conditions. It's like retaining options for things to get better over time. Giving up abandons not just the job but, if seems, myself, for what have I got but Infinities facing me. Abandoning this one leaves me with only Infinities of alternative ones.

I have a clever plan for how to finish painting The Porch. It's more clever and more experienced than the naive notion I followed when I started prep work. I'll wash the boards with liquid sandpaper then tape the edges. Then I'll prime the bare boards and maybe the whole surface, including the railings. Then I'll paint the railings, since they hover over the deck surface. I can clean up dribbles without affecting the deck paint. A quick second coat on the railings and I'll be ready to apply the first coat on the deck. That should go quickly. Then, assuming the maple tree doesn't decide that today's the day to launch its helicopter seed armada, after an hour of drying or so, I can apply the second coat. Then again, I could turn picky and decide that those board ends that reach out beneath the railing into the Rhododendron Garden need more prepping. That would inject fresh Infinities and could delay completion by another day. I dare not declare as good enough anything not quite up to snuff, though. I'm painting for the ages here!

Look, it just started raining out there!

Yesterday, after mindless hours manning the noisy sander, I started watching myself. I'd grown understandably fidgety, the work taking longer than I'd expected since becoming an Infinity. My mind became a juke box of thoughts, old songs popped up and old stories. I rehashed a few prior experiences as if I'd entered a dream world. The sander seemed to know the way, so I seemed to just follow his lead. I entered an extended out-of-body experience, where my awareness went someplace else, an infinity of alternative places. It kept no journal. I have no record of where I went or what I experienced there, just a tousle-haired recollection of having visited. I doubt that I actually lost consciousness in this world or fully regained it anywhere else. I might have split into infinite parts, each on their own, though each still tightly connected.

I might resist entering Infinities because I lose conscious control there. My consciousness, such as it is, maintains the accounts of my comings and goings, looking ahead and figuring likely arrival and departure times. The Infinities disable that conscience calculating. It the middle, it can't see the end and has almost forgotten the details from the beginning, and has by then certainly abandoned the original plan. Infinities demand undetermined action, not exactly spontaneous motion, but certainly something more intuitive than guided, and that action seems more fully human. When working on some finite something, the sander never seems to know the way. I need to watch it closely lest it get some notion into its head and wander away. Distracted within the enormity of some task, though, fresh latitudes appear. Boundaries disappear. I feel suspended in there. But I had to stick with it to get that far into it. It's an out of mind state, of course, and well worthy of caution but not avoidance. I might most become myself there where my usual controls and inhibitions hold little currency. I always enter hesitantly.

"What did you do today, honey?"

Oh, nuthin' much, just a few Infinities.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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