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Cassius Marcellus Coolidge: Dogs Playing Poker (1894)
"Action's highly over-rated."

I acknowledge myself to be a dedicated Natterer. I consider most interventions worth deep consideration before engaging in. I'm that old dog that just seems to have to circle the spot where he always lays down before actually plopping down there. I look around before leaping, and might choose not to leap at all after considering. I seem to need to construct a mental model before I begin. I construct a mental model TO begin, for I almost always start my actions that way. Yes, these things take time. Everything seems to take time, so more time doesn't seem to matter to me just as long as I'm productively engaged in some nattering. A small chore, fully considered, might take me until the middle of next week to appear to even start, though I've very likely started nattering about it long before anyone notices any actual action out of me. I might explain that I'm thinking, though I know deep inside me that I'm actually actively nattering instead.

Once I became a world-class Natterer, I found that I'd developed an entire vocabulary to explain myself to any witness to my proceedings, or, more usually, my lack of proceeding.
Yes, I'm 'just' sitting, but I explain that I'm not 'just' sitting, but figuring, essentially pre-living my impending action, with heavy emphasis on 'impending.' I understand that to everyone else and perhaps even to myself, it might genuinely appear that I'm doing nothing, but a man has his self-esteem to maintain, so I'm unlikely to admit to 'just' doing (or, not doing) anything. I'm up to something, I'll say, though generally invisibly up to something. I might alternatively explain myself as engaged in 'problem-solving,' measuring twice, or maybe a half a dozen times, before committing scissors to cloth, under the auspices of some well-respected adage. Nobody can ever uncut an erroneous cut, though my deep considering might not, often doesn't, seem to make much difference in the results I produce. I remain just as prone as anybody to screwing up that first cut, in spite (because?) of my seemingly endless preamble nattering.

He who hesitates probably isn't lost, or not lost under any conventional meaning. He might well be lost in thought. Quick reaction times seem grossly over-rated and often become necessary due to a deficit of prior nattering. Had one thought a tad more deeply before engaging, one might well have foreseen the extenuating situation likely to insist upon some quick reacting. Properly conditioned, almost every action might be comfortably plodded into and through without ever needing to resort to anything even vaguely resembling lightening. He who rarely hesitates seems more lost than anyone, the stranger to nattering seemingly the most lost of all. Though I admit that I can and do sometimes get a little tangled up in my own underpants when nattering, I consider even that a foundational component of my subsequent findings. I'm not lost (yet) and with any luck, I might not ever get around to actually accomplishing lost, though I can assure you that I will most certainly have been considering the whole concept of lost, which will very likely be why I must seem to be procrastinating. I'm just protecting my interests.

I offer no advice for those loved ones and collaborators still wondering when they might be able to see me in action. Many of my actions, particularly my more decisive ones, never raise a ripple on any pond. I generate little wind when passing, for I'm moving while maintaining a steadfastly stationary position. I can see the progress I'm making even if nobody else gets even the barest hint that I'm making anything, progress prominent among these. I sense my world slowly fitting into place, like puzzle pieces long confounding my attempts at ordering them. Ordering comes, eventually, and if not, I'm likely to simply sidestep the opportunity. If I can't find some satisfying sense in it before I begin, I figure I'm probably better off never beginning, by which I of course mean, quitting after considerable nattering. I'm fully capable of pre-nattering, too, so you will have gotten off cheaply if I forfeit after only nattering it to ground. Pre-nattering produces raw material for a more protracted considering, my Main Event, where I really pull out all the stops to stop and deeply consider. Action's highly over-rated.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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