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Félix Edouard Vallotton:
Money, plate five from
Intimacies (1898)

"Be careful what you wish for …"

Who among us isn't prone to insist in moments of extremity that we'd willingly pay any price, bear any cost, to achieve our desired Success? We're each probably occasionally guilty of employing loose talk rather than free speech. We will beseech while praying that the bill collector never comes calling to collect the desperate debt, especially if our sweaty investment has failed to pay off yet. Some bets never pay off in anything but desperation.

I've been watching with train wreck fascination as Kevin McCarthy, the seemingly life-long wannabe Speaker of the House of Representatives, degrades himself and his prospective office, groveling before his obvious inferiors (a term I used hesitantly, if accurately, presuming for a second that it's not more likely that McCarthy enjoys only betters).
WhatPrice would he be unwilling to pay? It seems that the bottom wouldn't even constitute any limit for him, who so obviously lusts after the position. But, on the other hand, if he manages to purchase the prize, I wonder if he'll long-term feel his groveling was worth the effort.

Of course, we all know that he eventually did win that prize after fifteen painfully degrading rounds of inept negotiation. He was negotiating with trolls, a guaranteed losing proposition, while engaging in a game only ever won by refusing to engage in it. He was a loser before he started. While he achieved his heart’s desire, I feel confident that he will come to rue this Success. I feel confident because I've seen this dance so many times before that it's become almost boring to witness. I suspect we each have this sense informing us when excess becomes too much, when redemption will likely be withheld from whoever continues beyond some point. After that point's crossed, all are literally lost. Then, the bill collector's sure to inevitably come calling. Then, it's just a small matter of when.

When will be an even less convenient time than right after "winning." A gloating time should ensue and could properly continue until most defenses have been worn through. Essentially defenseless, our protagonist will experience the full depth of the despair he purchased at his own tenacious insistence. His greatest Success will turn itself into dust, for this always was the way of this world. Those who believed they'd achieved immunity from the inexorable were always the most vulnerable and most surprised when the bill came due. They will believe that someone screwed them then, but they certainly screwed themselves beforehand. Be careful what you wish for, especially whatever you insist upon receiving, for the universe might just deliver it. Consider the price before insisting upon receiving, for there's always a price, and it always comes due.

McCarthy was elected Speaker of The House of Representatives by the narrowest possible margin. Still, he’d gutted the governance of that house in the process, leaving himself holding governance without a governable organization attached. His would be called a Pyrrhic victory, one achieved at excessive cost unlikely ever to be returned. WhatPrice? Indeed! We'll wait and see how the inevitable emerges, certain only that it's coming.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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