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Carless- Day Ten -Lost and Found

I suspect that we’re rediscovering long-acknowledged principles by going carless. Whether these are classified as understandings fundamental to psychology, sociology, anthropology, chemistry, physics, or library science doesn’t matter to me. Whereever fundamental knowledge resides, it seems fundamentally useless until I personally experience it.

Carless turns out to be one of those something’s missing dilemmas. In this class of conundrum, the important lessons emerge. I couldn’t usefully learn this stuff without personally experiencing it. This ain’t a thought experiment, but an existential one.

As my friend Dan pointed out last week, artists have long recognized absence as a source of creativity. Remove just one piece of your standard palette, and difference becomes more likely, perhaps inevitable. And I suspect that the identity of that one omitted element doesn’t matter. I could decide to go hatless and perhaps learn as much.

I could read about hatless without ever once experiencing any real learning about hatlessness. Sure, I might be able to pass a test designed to evaluate how clearly I retained the facts of a hatless existence, but I’d have nothing but my head to inform me through it. I would be able to project those sunburnt ears without having ever actually experienced them, but I would not have experienced them.

This might well-represent the state of knowledge today. It’s possible to get an MBA from a reputable university without ever once managing a real business. They won’t even require that you’d failed at something as a pre-requisite.

Out here in the physical world, the aches and scars matter more than the theory that, ‘properly respected,’ might have enabled me to avoid the damage. It might be that we can’t know, can’t predict what unintended consequences even our most fervent choices manifest. Carless begets witless. Witless might spawn wisdom. I distrust all shortcuts to wisdom because I suspect there aren’t any. Though even a shortcut might spawn wisdom, as usual, of the unintended variety.

After ten carless days, I’m not yet a carless zealot. Zealotry seems just another head over heart or heart over head experience, unbalanced enough to qualify as either out-of-body or out-of-mind. Absence provides the possibility for integrating into wholes somethings that otherwise might just become festering holes.

We went visiting friends with a new born today. In the course of the conversation, they asked if we were interested in their old Subaru. How much? Not much. I could run it by Tony the master mechanic to see if it was even worth not much. Amy said, “At least we’d know its history.”

Yea, say what I might about our dearly departed car, we’d shared a history. Before the bumper fell off after Amy’s unfortunate (or was that fortunate) accident, we’d somehow integrated one absence after another. The electric locks quit several years ago. We re-learned how the key works. The passenger door needed to be locked manually, “Lock your door, I don’t want to lose you,” became a common part of our shared vocabulary. The driver’s seat left my back aching if I sat in it longer than an hour or two, so our trips shortened. The presence of a car was an endless series of car feature failures, little carlesses culminating in a more encompassing carlessness.

At my age, life long ago stopped being mere acquisition. The lessons in integrating lessnesses seem the predominant lessons now, and I know I’m not ever going to acquire my way into or out of this existence. I’m learning to believe that I live most fully when I’m doing without something that formerly seemed essential to my very existence. I continue to exist. I know there’s a lot more of more of this losing coming. I’m hopeful that I’ll get better at integrating whatever I choose to lose—or simply discover lacking—into some unlikely but potentially delightful whole.

Lost remains an excellent premise to found.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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