Rendered Fat Content


Edvard Munch: Attraction I (1896)

" … necessary for me to get begun and then get through anything to done."

I wonder if I OverThink as much as I think I do. It's true, I do often think my way through an anticipated action two, three, four, and often even many more times before I take action, and even then, I might opt to take no action at all (yet). I consider my scrutiny prudent, though not everyone would agree. How many thought experiments must a standard ketchup bottle survive before it's set aside as too complicated to open yet?

I seem to have been born to run on intuition, yet I blunt my native sort of 20/20 vision with dump truckloads of conflating cognition.
I weigh the alternatives, finding almost all of them somehow wanting. Even when I choose to act, I frequently forget the secret trick behind successfully opening that ketchup bottle. (Hint: A plastic tag secreted beneath the cellophane-protected 'easy-open' cap must be removed. Nothing short of a sharp paring knife can possibly cut through that industrial-grade cellophane. Good luck removing that easy-open cap to expose the ultimately unremovable plastic tag underneath.) I should not be surprised when I realize how much wiser just using the already-opened Sriracha might prove to be. I decide to leave and do without a lot of unopened ketchup.

These little dramas punctuate my day. I work hard not to take them too personally. For all I know, everyone constantly wrestles with these kinds of dilemmas, though I feel uniquely haunted by them. Could I not more confidently engage with these disempowering features rather than considering, re-considering, and then re-considering before avoiding engaging with them again? Apparently not! I have a pantry filled with roads not taken and a workbench well-stocked with essentially unusable handyman aids, which, upon closer consideration, I could not use at all.

Perhaps I exhibit the writer's fate, for writers, you see, transcribe little without mindfully mulling on it first. Flawless prose never flows out the ends of any writer's fingers; typing speed always seemed irrelevant. I use my delete key much more than any other. I deleted that last paragraph three times before settling on what remains there now.

I mow my lawn like I write. I consider the work before I begin, concocting alternate scenarios and over-estimating the effort required, over-whelming myself with presuppositions, convincing myself just how impossible the job might be before finally, in a fitful thread of a moment, I simply begin. Once inside the work, I (so far) figured out how to deal with the intricacies I never could recall from before. I might even sense some hazy mastery once engaged, though my muscle memory will never seem able to retain its memory. Next time, I'll encounter that same great mystery again and question if I ever demonstrated that skill until I decide to go ahead and try again after mulling over just how unlikely I might be to succeed.

It seems a genuine wonder to me when I successfully complete anything. After working my way through a hazy half-dozen scenarios, each demonstrating how I could not possibly succeed, the most unlikely result always, always, always shocks and surprises me. I wonder then if I really do overthink as much as I think I do or if the accompanying rigamarole might just be necessary for me to get begun and then get through anything to done.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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