Rendered Fat Content


The Frolicking Animals scroll (Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga) from Heian Japan (mid-12th century)
" … SenseMaking, not necessarily about making sense …"

I've been trying for two months to schedule a Scheduled Maintenance appointment for The Schooner. I'd been really good at keeping each prescribed appointment since we bought the car, though it was easier when the dealer was just down the hill from us and I could just stop in to schedule a visit in person. Now that we've moved out toward the end of every known distribution channel, the closest dealership's fifty miles away. I considered just having my favorite local mechanic take over the maintenance, but he maintains a steady three month waiting list for appointments, so The Schooner's odometer would be at 55,000 miles before we could complete the 52,000 mile service. I'm now trying to negotiate away the 52,000 mile service in favor of just performing the 60,000 mile service early because I've lost faith that I can schedule the appointment much before the old odometer clicks over 60K.

The dealership's website features a futuristic scheduling application which was apparently intended to handle all appointment scheduling.
It's text-based, designed for people with normal thumbs. I cannot figure out how to use it, though I suspect that it's an industry standard application, but then I still cannot figure out how to use Amazon's user interface, either. Like with the Amazon app, the dealer's scheduling app tangles itself up with an absolutely inane Pastword authentication process which seems to exist solely to expeditiously disqualify potential users. I cannot get past that first gatekeeper who does not recognize me and apparently does not want to get to know me. I eventually, after a hot half hour fiddling with futility, surrendered and went looking for a trusty if old-fashioned phone number. I've been playing a very slow motion game of phone tag since with the dealership's self-proclaimed service manager who never, ever answers his phone and only rarely returns phone messages, either, a SMINO, Service Manager In Name Only, a perfect counterpart to their user hostile scheduling app. So The Schooner and I are presently stuck in that wasteland between intention and fulfillment, an oddly familiar place.

None of this experience makes any sense on its surface. Like with many if not most experiences these days, this one just seems stupid, as if it should have been or could have been designed to make immediate sense, but doesn't. Further, an ever increasing number of encounters seem to be falling ever further into the Doesn't Make Sense side of the equation. This phenomenon might have to do with me no longer belonging to the dominant demographic. They might not be designing things for my convenience anymore because my engagement no longer matters, so they design exclusively for my inconvenience, which makes little sense on the surface. My once dominant position in the universe has been supplanted by one populated with people who prefer to manage their affairs with their thumbs, text-basers. The phone's such nineteenth century technology when used for calling. I might just as well be thumbless for my facility in this curiously-configured world.

The purpose of this story, though, was just to provide an example of how my entire existence seems to have evolved into one of continual SenseMaking. Nothing seems to reliably be as it first appears. I cannot even figure out how most doors work anymore. I cannot immediately decode their cues, whether they're pull or push, they seem to offer no clues. Traffic signs tend to be thoughtfully positioned just after the exit so that their meaning registers just after anyone could do anything about responding to it. I can't reliably find the price of stuff on grocery store shelves. I don't even try to access local television channels, the process to achieve that being the rough equivalent of machine language coding. My point being that I seem to spend most of every day immersed in endless SenseMaking, much of which results in only the barest of settlements, a begrudging acknowledgement that something just doesn't make sense and couldn't. I feel every bit like a SenseMaking Sisyphus.

What does this subject have to do with my Authoring activities? Well, I was speaking with my new Authoring consultant (more on him later) when I heard myself explaining that my writing seems to be all about me trying to make meaning. It rarely presumes. The internal dialogue it transcribes represents my SenseMaking in action, as if it might get past some PastWord authentication to pass on inside into knowing. The knowing part seems more a trending than a destination, for it seems likely, given my long standing behavior patterns, that I'll never actually manage to make stabile sense of much. My life and my craft seem to be all about SenseMaking, not necessarily about making sense, the difference not necessarily being that obvious. In this sense, Authoring seems to me to be an awful lot like an unschedulable Scheduled Maintenance appointment.


Friday came this week, scheduled or not, no user authentication necessary, thank heavens. I feel "all thumbs", as the suddenly ironic old saying used to say. I'm partway through Proofing another manuscript, suspended in the middle, unresolved. This week was the one which might mark the start of my having finally made sense of my Authoring intentions. It certainly seemed to feature an awful lot of rather intense navel-gazing, introspection, reflection. It began with me Cogitating and ended with me standing InsideOut. It seemed as I passed through it, an inordinate amount of figuring out. I doubt, though, that the result will be me having figured out. It's more likely, it seems, that I gained some more practice in SenseMaking, talking, perhaps mumbling, my way through another something, maybe Authoring.

As I said, I began my writing week
Cogitating, which tied for most popular posting of the period. "I can declare that I'm not quite yet where I feel I need to be to move decisively forward. I ain't no action figure."

I next reflected upon how disorienting Authoring at first felt until my
Rhythmia of it found me. This also tied for most popular. "Once connected to the rhythm of this work, and reconnected to the rhythm proper for this work, the effort hardly feels like working at all."

I then described another rather annoying aspect of Authoring, the necessity of
SecondOrderStorytelling. "… there is no second order story that properly encapsulates the stories told within, there's just a second order fiction that tells a story as if there might have been such a story imbedded within it."
I performed a little mid-course reflection with
RevisitingPurpose. "I work on spec, on the chance that my effort might make a difference. My reward comes from continuing the conviction rather than as a result of ever actually confirming it."

I suggested that in addition to all the mindfulness training available, we could really use some training in
Mindlessnessing. "We learn the fine points of Mindlessnessing by monkey-see, monkey-do methods, never by reading instructions, often by rumor. One adapts or one never completes."`

I questioned whether I or anyone might be the sum of their competencies in
InCompetences. "I inhabit a patchwork playing field, only some of which seems suited to the work in which I engage. Portions stand like No Man's Lands, where I have learned I daresn't trod. I zig, zag, and double back, artfully avoiding those portions I've yet to master, more often than I care to detail, falling into some pit or another, then having to figure out how to hoist myself back out. Bootstraps don't help. Neither does my own petard."

I ended my writing week, as I mentioned above, by pointing out that my stories seem crafted
InsideOut. They present my internal dialogue rather than any outward story. "When I came home at night, I wanted to hide in the basement until I could hear my tiny, almost insignificant internal voice again, whispering, whimpering."

In reflection, then, this writing week seemed all about SenseMaking. I continue questioning just what I'm doing with this Authoring initiative. Some days I feel almost competent at it. Other days, not so much. I suspect that this represents how Authoring is, another balancing exercise not really intended to achieve stabile balance, SenseMaking, perhaps at best approaching actually making sense without ever once actually arriving at it. Being a gerund-form, Authoring's more verb, perhaps, than noun. It's not about a destination but perhaps more about continuing determination. If you knew your journey couldn't possibly result in arriving at any destination, would you still depart? Would you still consent to start a new adventure? Asking for a friend.

Thank you for following along.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver