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"In this season, I even feel unskilled at self-deception."

By the last week of January, anyone should be excused for having somehow lost addressability to who they are or even who they used to be. The weather turned skitzy more than a month before, swapping identities day to day. Shorts one day, heavy boots the next. Ordinary times slip into full festal ones then back again. Bacchanal celebrations dance the hokey-pokey with solemn religious ones. The sacred expresses itself with venial exchanges. Smugness snuggles with humility. Darkness wrestles for dominion with light. Candles curse the darkness. Darkness mumbles invective against the light. Plenty seems to placate the barren scrubland that was once my well-tended garden.

By the end of January, I'm running on vague promises.
Spring seems further than two thirds of a season away and I've forgotten exactly how it is that winter recedes day to day. I've lost the scent of fecund soil and the pattern of awakening trees. Both seem mythical now, utterly dependent upon unsupportable belief, a faith I feel hardly up to projecting. I might be experiencing hibernation, my senses turned down to mere pilot lights, useless until some presumed future time but fine for processing what passes for now. Presumption must suffice for once vibrant primary sensory experience. Persistent wind dulls my hearing. Dry air clogs my sinuses. Tongue numbed from innumerable braised suppers the texture of wet clay. Tangy citrus stands in for agreeable sweets. My world smells like a storage closet.

I become more a passive observer than an active participant in this dulled and dulling half-season. A great numbing-down occurs. My already microscopic attention span further shrinks as an apparently inevitable ennui lengthens and expands. My old reliables abandon me. Reading hardly captures what little unaffected imagination remains. The larder hardly inspires. Small chores seem unapproachable, maintenance waiting for a more skilled technician than I presently believe myself to be. I shovel the driveway three times in a single day, grateful for the small sense of accomplishment each turn provides. Fifteen minutes of almost vigorous exercise in a cutting sidewind followed by an overlong ritual of completely unnecessary recovery.

The Muse spent the Sunday fabricating grandkid pajamas, intricate, wholly engaging work. Not even background music emanates from her sewing room as I pretend to be considering some grand plan down the hall. Snow continuously falls but utterly fails to impart her usual comforting atmosphere inside. The weather inside me seems more frightful than the frozen tundra outside. I'm still learning not to take these doldrums seriously, though they do seem to take me seriously, deeply affecting me. I know I only feel powerless, that my prowess, whatever it might be or might have been, lies in dormancy somewhere, awaiting a spark, some inevitably unanticipated event. Change might have already started her languorous journey to meet up with me here, but she didn't telegraph ahead her intentions or her itinerary. I'm here while she's off somewhere else.

My usual rituals hold no power over me on the tail end of January. I still practice them, almost accustomed to their tenacious inefficacy. I practice them anyway. If anyone knows, I certainly do not know, even for uncertain, whether repeated applications of old reliables might revive this patient. The patient loses his patience like the identity loses its once prominent sense of self. Imbedded in milling around season, I might be poised for some shift or simply another roasted parsnip supper again. Even the sublime parsnip, the angelic vegetable, fails to move me now.

The smallest obligation feels like a major encumbrance now. I'm snippy with The Muse, but more so with myself. Even I interpret about half of my reactions to simple petulance, as if I'd lost decades of maturing wisdom to become an impatient nine year old again. The world does not seem to be working at the moment, even though I know that I never could see the workings of this danged place. I've been fortunate, carried by mostly fair winds toward satisfying destinations I never could envision beforehand. I sometimes mistook good fortune for skill. Why not, if the winds move favorably? Skills seem no less capricious and we thrive more on our explanations than we ever could upon even God-given talents. When the winds blow ill, only stories offer salvation.

I am here this morning, a newborn again, cast into an indifferent world. Nothing much matters in the last week in January. Airliners depart half full, only weather breaking their numbing rhythm. The newspaper insists that nothing happened on this date in the past. Nothing happened on this date today, either. No war started because belligerents failed to find the handle on their grievances. No war ended because the entropy of the season precluded any grand initiative. Not even the glide path has kicked in yet. The annual suspended animation continues as if it held mass or momentum. Not even the incessant wind holds substance.

I feel tempted to assume some alternate identity for the duration of this fallow time. Perhaps some already-knows-it-all or long-ago-figured-it-out notable, always embarrassingly ready to dispense even unwanted advice. To even pretend to have mastered some great mystery might somehow uplift me. Maybe I could dispense some unsolicited advice and thereby elevate myself to levitate above the not-all-that-great unwashed like me. But what would even such pseudo success against my present gravity gain me but a few no more than perhaps satisfying moments of pseudo satisfaction? I could be an easy mark today for anyone peddling pseudo-anything. It's the pseudo season. Maybe (no more than a half-hearted maybe from me) I might stick with the few remaining shreds of my own identity rather than hobble off after any enticing Youdentity offered. In this season, I even feel unskilled at self-deception.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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