Rendered Fat Content


Winter by Jean Antoine Houdon, 1787
"Background moves into foreground sometimes …"

Life presents many LittleDeaths, sudden absences disrupting flow. These experiences might seem mere inconveniences to any casual observer, but the principal deeply feels their sting. Yesterday, returning from our usual larder stocking excursion, I felt my shirt pocket for my eyeglasses and found them AWOL, missing from their pocket perch. I initiated a quick search, well experienced with discovering that I'd set them down somewhere. I could not immediately recall where I might have left them, but I reassured myself that they could not be far. As near as I could tell, they were precisely nowhere: lost, gone, disappeared. I quickly engaged in denial, sensing that they simply must be near, even going so far as to just wear my prescription sunglasses to read a chapter or three in the latest library book. It would too soon turn dusk, though, so I headed out to the drug store to score some cheaters, cheap magnifying lenses to help me make do.

I still firmly believe those glasses will show up, though I'm plotting a visit to my optometrist tomorrow morning.
I returned to the supposed scene of the crime late yesterday afternoon, but saw no sign there of my missing pair. I felt near despair as I returned up the long back route from down there, still absent my pair. A low grade depression set in. The cheaters sufficed for reading, but lift my head to try to see even into any short distance, and my visual field turns into a distinctly unfunny fun house mirror. I had exchanged a Maserati for a rusty bicycle. I might get by, but barely, for I had lost more than my photo graying glasses. I was experiencing a LittleDeath.

Little Deaths disrupt orderly flow. They come unbidden, often at what suddenly seems like the least convenient time. What had become first nature normal cannot then continue and nothing ameliorates the sense of loss. Often, LittleDeaths occurred before discovering them, like a murder victim stumbled upon, like my eyeglasses, simply and inexplicably gone. Gone but not soon forgotten. These disruptions do not seem helpful or useful or beneficial in any way, but pure loss. Even forgetting about the cost of a replacement, the deep sense of displacement from normal exacts a terrible price. I wandered back to the store where I reasoned I might have somehow dropped them unaware, but though I'd been there dozens of times, it seemed distinctly not like an old familiar. I felt every bit the alien visitor and I held a terrible secret. I must have been complicit. Maybe I'm losing my marbles. I felt like I'd that afternoon turned into Mr. Magoo. Evidence of early onset Alzheimer's?

There will be no replacement for this loss. I might consolingly consider it practice for greater losses coming, a small trial run for when my life becomes beset by even greater sudden absences. I gratefully didn't lose my temper. I phoned The Muse as I left the presumed scene of the crime store, which it will certainly evermore seem to me, asking her to check the recyclables bin, since I sensed a faint possible memory of perhaps losing that pair when I fumbled a load of recyclables into there, dropping two bottles which considerately shattered on the cement garage floor. I imagined that this act could have easily distracted me into not noticing my eyeglasses popping up and out of that too small tee shirt pocket to nestle beneath a flattened can or shattered bottle shards. No, she reported, no sign there. I swear that I'm still looking everywhere and my mind can't seem to stop reconsidering to just where they might have so utterly disappeared. Who knew I had grown so attached to what had become essentially invisible to me? It took a LittleDeath to awaken such a deep appreciation. Remorse typically accompanies each LittleDeath.

What's next? Nobody could possibly know. Winter, a few ever shorter weeks away, will one day whisk away our lovely summer petunia garden along with the hummingbirds and hummingbird moths who quite literally make that garden hum. The Schooner, trusty vehicle though she might be, could suddenly be taken away. No insurance in the world could possible recover such a loss, only grieving and a painful process of transferring affection could possibly compensate, and even then, the replacement will arrive too late to blunt the painful assimilation of that sudden recognition that a LittleDeath just visited. I've lost shoes and hearts in my time so far. My songs do not seem nearly as innocent anymore, and while I'm working hard not to slink into continuing paranoia, I'm catching on to how this life works. It presents each of us with no small ration of joys along with what might prove to be an equally adequate share of our own LittleDeaths, for none of any of this will prove nearly as eternal as we might unreasonably expect it be; always here in reassuringly deep background. Background moves into foreground sometimes, bringing a curiously deep sense of loss with every freshly served up LittleDeath.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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