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Winslow Homer: After the Hurricane, Bahamas (1899)

"Even happily ever after suggests the storytelling will continue."

After the HouseConcert, what then? What's next? My attention had been so intensely focused through these SetTheory stories that I gave scant concern over what might happen if my dream came true and I somehow, against great odds, managed to perform a set of my songs. Well, the dream came true. The Muse and I stayed up late after the HouseConcert, doing dishes and relishing the receding warmth the evening produced. By the time The Muse went to bed, piles of clean dishes on the kitchen table and my guitar standing in the front window were the only remaining evidence that a gathering had even happened. The following morning, I woke late, feeling deeply satisfied. I had accomplished something.

I had not started studying my curious SetTheory to change the world, for I've always considered notions of changing this world to be sins of self importance.
This world, this universe, seems to run on a kind of auto-pilot impervious to deliberate intervention. We often see inadvertencies deeply influence this world's trajectory, but rarely, if ever, witness any deliberate attempt succeed. I long ago concluded that my point of leverage for change stood closer to home than the entire world. I can and have successfully changed myself, though not often. I have sometimes successfully created space within which I feel safe, but have much more often stumbled into my safety, just choosing to take advantage of a happy accident rather than actually become the full blown author of it. I do not aspire to do great things, just satisfying ones.

The HouseConcert stands now, as it recedes into the past, as a high water mark of my experience. That I managed to perform that set does not in any way suggest that I became a master of my music. I did not find the universal solvent on my way to satisfying my small intention. My success humbled me without humiliation. My birth family never got around to instilling in me any understanding of what to do in the event that something other than catastrophe happened. I suspect this was because they had little experience with dealing with feelings of success. Their successes, which seem considerable from my current perspective, might be best described as limited, mixed and in no way ever unconditional. My parents knew well how to cringe in anticipation and knew squat about how to accept appreciation, other than to insist that it was "nothing."

I've peg-legged on my strange SetTheory for the whole last quarter. Now comes the WhatNext? part of that program, where I'm enjoined to stand up, accept success, then move on and into something else. I have been writing these daily missives continuously for five and a half years now. This series will be my twenty-second since I began this indenture. I have much left to say and even more left to experience. I just need a premise, and hopefully one as fruitful as SetTheory proved to be for me. Some wag sent me a SetTheory text, one made up of the actual mathematics, though I found a few parallels between that formal exposition and my much less formal practice. SetTheory determines by associations, what's in and what's out, and what each group might have to disclose about with whatever we're concerned. Its math seems obtuse because it does not deal with countable objects, but with attributes, categories. It seems more like casting an I Ching reading than performing mathematics, at least to my untrained eye.

My SetTheory, too, exhibited similar characteristics. As much as I railed against LifeBoatDrills, my SetTheory, produced a winnowed down focus. It left more songs behind than it left standing by the time I performed my HouseConcert. Will those songs become eternal also-rans or will they fuel a subsequent pursuit, a series of future HouseConcerts? Great successes seem to spawn great questions like expanding knowledge seems to encourage even more inquiry. Mysteries do not really have storybook endings, but tend to end more like serials, with some compelling What'sNext? coming over the horizon. Always another episode to anticipate. Even happily ever after suggests storytelling will continue.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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