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Wassily Kandinski: Various Actions (1941)
" … partly just reward and partly well-deserved punishment …"

Any half-decent exile includes much hopeful longing, many if-onlies. "If only the damned deer weren't everywhere, we could have a real garden instead of this make-shift deck one." If-onlies provide a valuable service. They keep open active aspiration, which proves incredibly nourishing to any soul feeling stranded on a seeming desert island. Some exile years utterly depend upon longing to remain survivable. Dreams predominated some months, delusions, others, but overall, we experienced exile as a sort of out-of-body experience. We compensated by perhaps over-inhabiting our future and under-appreciating our present. Now that we're back and SettlingInto, we no longer have the option of living so far ahead of ourselves. We've entered a stage where the primary barriers to our dreams coming truer lie in our hands and not just an indistinct future's. We've entered the Put Up or Shut Up stage of dreaming. Nothing's any longer sufficiently resolved by talking about what we intend to do, but only by accomplishing something. Sure, excuses still cling and linger. After a dozen years gone, even those newer habits seem hard-ish to break, but it's now our job to take those reins and ride for all we're worth. We're in The PuttingUp Stage.

It seems fundamentally unfair to criticize any action I was not directly involved in, not that, like anyone, I haven't frequently engaged in this.
From three thousand miles away, for instance, the challenges which continued visiting here in our absence seemed as if they would have been easily dispatched had I only been there helping. Once back and personally responsible for resolution, I more readily recognize the completely normal complications preventing blithe resolution. Even some small problems suddenly seem familiarly impossible to solve. I do not wake up each morning frisky and pawing. Some days seem more difficult to face. Even I can forget that the cost of having an actual garden exacts a daily tax on my latitudes for action. Those fuchsia want watering come rain or shine because the rain doesn't reach beneath the front porch roof. The water in that cute little garden fountain evaporates to dry each and every day and its delightful tinkling requires that I drag a hose across a no-man's land of lawn to refill it and then put away that hose and get my jeans muddy in the process. Ten thousand similar small obligations accompany every damned dream once it's entered The Coming True Stage. The exile's dreams largely turn out to have been false narratives.

Reality remains an uncaring taskmaster, accepting no excuses as good or workable. A responsibility's either satisfied or deficient and declaring what I'm going to do impresses no-one. If it's done it's done. If it's not, it's not, and those undones each seem a violation of the covenant I so carefully constructed in exile. As indistinct somedays resolve into now, there's no longer any time but the present and each day accepts no resentment. We received what we fervently wished for. It's now our job to deal with it, preferably now. While in exile we sometimes took whole days off. We now have to find back-up should we decide to be absent, someone to tend the cats and water the garden. Somebody to remember for us to water the damned fuchsia baskets hanging on the porch. Someone to keep the lawn in check. Someone we can grumble about once we're back like we grumble about ourselves every day we're here. We're quite obviously the morons in charge now.

I've always experienced down days. Sprinkled within my usually cheerful countenance, I some days retreat into dreading resentment. I'm capable of feeling depressed, but the Villa doesn't care. It lacks empathy toward me and toward anybody else. It holds an attitude. "You wanted me, so fulfill your responsibility. If I need painting, just get on with it, buster. Don't make promises about what you're gonna do. Just freaking do something." So I'm doing and on days when I'm feeling not quite my engaging self, I'm fading into an irrelevance similar to the one I felt in exile but with one significant difference. I'm not irrelevant here and never was, which leads me to question if exile ever really rendered me as irrelevant as I so often felt there. We were renters there. Here, we're owners. But even when we were owners there, that context's impermanence left us dreaming of some place else and so not so overwhelmingly present. We neither completely put up or shut up there, our dreams of our future continually nattering. Here we're enjoined to enjoy, perhaps a well-deserved reward for many years talking up this future without ever having to put up very much to sustain it. PuttingUp seems partly just reward and partly well-deserved punishment, only a vaguely anticipated part of SettlingInto until we arrived.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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