Rendered Fat Content


William Michael Harnett: Just Dessert (1891)

"Life most often proceeds by other means than planned."

It might be an immutable law of this universe that JustWhen something seems lined up and ready to go, something else intrudes to blow up whatever best-laid plan was guiding the move. This presence justifies all the encouragement anyone can ever attract. But, regardless of how it feels, these intrusions are never about you. They're just this unsettling property of the universe breaking through at the invariably least convenient times. I know that it seems you get more of these than anybody, but that's a perspective illusion created by you having the only seat situated to see what happens to you but not to anybody else. Ninety percent of these JustWhens are invisible to everyone but the victim.

The occurrence of another JustWhen, no matter how common they seem, does not necessarily render the recipient a victim.
Much depends upon how the recipient reacts; even an initially extreme reaction can be followed by more circumspect ones. If a JustWhen sprouts a grudge, it can become big trouble, which might require professional counseling to recover from. A run-of-the-mill JustWhen should not necessitate a wholesale abandonment of an original objective, just a reassessment. I know, I just heard myself say, "just," too, and I didn't mean by employing that term to play down the effect your latest JustWhen certainly had. These typically seem tragic at the point of impact, a frustrating turn of fortune, the end of something. Not wanting to sound too awfully reassuring, these endings also tend to mark the start of something, often something completely surprising!

I know, the last thing anybody wanted after carefully planning an initiative was to receive a surprise plot twist the morning they're leaving. Well, they're not leaving as planned, so it was the morning they'd planned on leaving. Now, they might never be leaving again. They might lose heart and contend that they must not have been meant to be departing and that they might stay closer to home thereafter. Stumbling out of the starting blocks convinces nobody that they're likely to win any race.

The Muse tested positive for Covid yesterday. My test showed nothing. She was just planning to announce her campaign to run for office this week. She had interviews lined up and looked forward to sitting with the newspaper's editor to discuss her perspectives. She will continue to pursue this objective, just not by previously planned means. Her planning was not wasted; she thought through the steps she'd have to take anyway, even if not in the same order and timeframe she initially expected. My careers, like everybody's, have been liberally spotted by JustWhen experiences. The missed meeting that was supposed to result in that big contract. The chance encounters that couldn't quite get followed up on—the opportunities passing close by but not quite close enough. I, too, have felt beset.

I can say that as a result of serial JustWhens, my story turned out differently than I'd planned. The stories that survived, though, seem richer for the JustWhen intrusions. The twists rendered them more interesting than they ever could have otherwise become. Life most often proceeds by other means than planned. If that's not a given, then it certainly should be.


Nobody Needs Gripey Neighbors

My absentee neighbor rang my doorbell yesterday. He'd returned to perform his semi-annual yard maintenance and to, I guess, accuse me of sabotaging his property. He'd found branches from his nearly dead maple tree littering his yard. Those branches have been falling all winter, every time the wind blew through the neighborhood. I admitted that I'd lovingly placed those that had fallen into the street into his yard so that he could take care of them as he pleased, not wanting to intrude into his crude and bewildering caretaking practice. He has a short fuse and one he seems to light himself. He began a litany of accusations, but I cut him off. Who did he think he was stepping up onto my porch to accuse me of sabotage? He ran a litany of grudges past me in under five minutes, but I'd lost my patience. I suggested that he sell that place if its care overwhelmed him so. Once he left, I texted a friend who had mentioned some interest in the property to report that he might finally be near enough to his wits end to agree to part with it on somewhat reasonable terms. Nobody needs gripey neighbors.

Weekly Writing Summary

I began my writing week by missing a day of writing, insisting upon some respite from the usual schedule with some ARRR&ARRR. "I required some strategic slacking but couldn't see that necessity through the fog of my own expectations. I might have been killing myself to achieve progress or engaging in some other widespread paradoxical practice. When efficiency encounters paradox, rest and recuperation must be added into the mix with a generous hand. Miss a day of dedicated effort. Catch yourself napping."
John J. A. Murphy: Athletes at Rest (20th Century)

" … they get away with murder …"

I next stumbled into a PrimitiveProgress, where "Small things become dedication tests, and my whims carry consequences."
Edward Sheriff Curtis:
The Primitive Artist - Paviotso (1924)

"I might scratch a story in a sandstone wall …"

I watched myself Renewing. "The exhaustion that claimed the foreground gives way to vigor, and one genuinely feels as if they're beginning all over again, but from the middle, nearer the ending. The sense of adventure should start to haunt again, and almost anything seems possible going forward from then."
Théodore Géricault, after Nicolas Poussin:
Man Clutching a Horse in Water,
Poussin's "Deluge" (1816)
" … a seemingly new you to see it through."

I noticed my distinct lack of presence as The Muse and I transitioned between away and back home again in 'Tweenings. "I parse my life in whole numbers and account for my presence as present or absent. It does not make sense to the auditors that I might be exclusively both or neither, or both and neither, though I probably am, though 'am' loses its validity when my presence turns non-binary. I might solely inhabit spaces in between, seen only by either sunsets or dawns, yawning gaps between extremes I'll never once experience. I must be a verb. No noun could likely contain me."
Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne:
Fishing for Souls (1614)

" … always somewhere in between."

I managed to make great progress on my Publishing effort without hardly trying, thanks to some Swooshing."I suspect Swooshing might be part of the Until It's Fun, It's Better Left Undone Ethic. Until it's easy, why bother? I understand that this notion violates most of the fabled Protestant Work Ethic. It somehow seems distinctly Buddhist or Daoist, some philosophy more focused upon quality of experience than punishment. It seems possible that I might accomplish my Publishing without too much suffering through the judicious involvement of Swooshing. Well, that, and some dedicated slacking, I guess. "
Peter Sheaf Hersey Newell:
Old Father William Turning a Somersault,
from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
(c. 1901)

"I might accomplish my Publishing without too much suffering …"

I came to feel as though I was training myself to become a complete idiot in *IncompleteIdiot, the most popular posting this period. "Self-esteem seems over-rated, if not impossible, thanks in no small part to our Artificially Intelligent Assistants. In the best of all worlds, AI would increase the net amount of humility in the universe, which would be a definite force for good."
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas:
Mounted Jockey (c. 1866)

"Self esteem seems over-rated, if not impossible …"

I ended my writing week noticing a certain CreepingFormality creeping into my writing. "CreepingFormality might be how I finally manage to produce completion, where I graduate into a more complete idiocy or settled formality. I carry a greater sense of history and feel the pressures of my pasts resolving into successive "final" drafts. I do not yet know how I'll know when I'm finished."
Abraham Delfos: Oude man, schrijvend in boek
[Old Man, Writing In Book]

"I do not yet know how I'll know when I'm finished."

Let this writing week stand as clear evidence in favor of rest periods, of the beneficial influence of R&R, of just getting away from the scene of the ongoing crime. It offered a distinctly different kind of progress, perhaps more primitive but freshly satisfying, Renewing. I noticed myself between and experienced an alternative, neither here nor there kind of belonging. I watched myself Swoosh through a formerly overwhelming task and realized that my work at perfecting my brand of idiocy remains unfinished, perhaps eternally. I finished the week noticing that I was becoming housebroken where Publishing’s concerned. Thank you for following along!

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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