Rendered Fat Content


Seated figure from Mali, Djenné peoples, 13th century
"Can anyone hope to outrun their fate when AgingInPlace?"

Americans seem a mobile people. Born to migrate, we've always been quick to ditch. We once referred to this tendency as our manifest destiny, which roughly translated into a firm belief that we can only manifest our true selves if we're somewhere else. We identify our sense of place as 'there', definitely not here or even the Old Home Place, and, no, we're still not there yet. We grow up and move away, relocate for professional advancement, even pull up roots at retirement to make another in a seemingly infinite series of attempts to finally locate our ultimate Promised Land. Arriving, though, we find dissatisfaction co-locating again, so we spend about a quarter of each year traveling to see somewhere else, anywhere else, really. We maintain bucket lists of our bucket lists, the purpose of which seems to be to fuel our pleasing dissatisfactions. Here has always seemed more distraction than destination. We ache to be on the road again.

So when This Damned Pandemic came calling and our well-intended public servants started recommending just staying home, a collective, mournful moan arose from at least half of our populous.
That suggestion seemed to come from the very top of our Anything But That! List. More would have willingly taken up a cleansing diet of fresh earthworms than comply with that particular Anything But That! Injunction. It couldn't matter whether that specific Anything But That! might prove to be the very best strategy for blunting viral spread. It seemed destined to drive many into becoming genuine head cases, hard core non-complying suicidals who could do anything, it seemed, except that one dreaded Anything But That! thing. We ached to take a road trip, just to get away a bit, our old familiar fallback hat trick for curing anything. We didn't imagine ourselves spreading, but escaping. We were apparently taking our problem along with us. We probably always had been.

We have never been a meditative people. The mere suggestion that one sit quietly for fifteen or twenty minutes might attract an angry fist, or at least a frustrated "What am I supposed to do with this?" response. Someone will very likely ask, "Can I keep my headset?" or "Is it okay if I smoke?" They will not be joking, for the prospect of doing nothing, especially if that might be good for something or even for themselves, seems an injunction from Hell in this culture. Our usual first response (and we are a nation now—since 9/11—of First Responders) will most likely find us already well on our way should you call. We're reactive by nature. We play chess by repeatedly castling, obsessively, if only to maintain a certain momentum. Stasis equals death, the heartless dismemberment of flow. We need to be on the go because only going feels like home to us now. Suggesting we try staying home seems like a stab in the back betrayal of our very identity. Consequently, our first reaction to the emergence of COVID-19 was to muster a massive identity crisis. We suddenly only knew for certain who we used to be, and had no clue of who we might be freshly destined to become.

Any same old place gets older in a hurry. Any once-routine flurry of activity deflects almost every sensation of aging. We're accustomed to feeling permanently in flux, and so it's almost just as if our familiar train has jerked to a sudden stop leaving about half the passengers bruised and broken. We do not know what to do if we're not doing something diverting. Out to run an errand. Out to lunch. Why not go out for supper, too? Out to the zoo. Out to do whatever calls us away. Suddenly, even the library seems attractive. We're not above calling ourselves away, not even disguising our voices. We never let these calls flip to voice mail. We were anxious as Hell to find any fresh justification to get on our way again, and these were not, I insist, simply people acting like twits again. We might have just as well been directed to fly, for few of us were blessed with the necessary feathers to accomplish this. We might more likely feel compelled to not comply, but not just to belligerently disregard good advice, but because we seemingly could not do otherwise. Fish gotta swim and birds just gotta fly.

Sequestration seems like Dorian Grey in reverse, an AgingInPlace. My face visibly sags while my self-image seems frozen away in some attic somewhere. My daily descent seems inevitable, an insidious form of punishment, hardly deserved. My mirror here never moves and nothing seems to be any closer than it appears, my bathroom mirror not exhibiting any rear viewing capability like the ones in my car provide. Nothing's disappearing in my mirror now, nothing except my moving illusion of youth. While I kept moving, so much truth could not even hope to catch up to me that I could never see anything like an end, just endlessly moving horizon. I fancied myself moving into, never present, relentlessly pursuing something. Anything would do. I could do what I'd never done before, never needing to rework or find some way to thrive on leftovers. I'd explain to my server that I was traveling and so I could not use that doggybag filled with leftovers. I would just get fresh up ahead. Trash cannot be so blithely dispatched when AgingInPlace.

Can anyone hope to outrun their fate when AgingInPlace?
Fridays continue visiting regardless of individual momentum. It's not difficult to catch up to or even lap most of us now that we're not on the relentless move anymore. I sense that This Damned Pandemic has finally managed to attract our attention after relentlessly pursuing us as moving targets. We were not able to outrun what was never a footrace only won by AgingInPlace.

My writing this week served as an adequate escape. Unwilling to go out, I felt forced to go further inside, though I still felt that aching for a fine substandard diner breakfast. I'm reheating beans at home for breakfast this morning, hardly anything like a desperate last choice or a hardship when I baked those beans in fresh veal/onion stock. I complain without conviction and unnecessarily. My keyboard and my pen tend to take me anywhere I really need to go and with remarkable mileage, too.

I began this writing week by complaining in
Complaintant, where I rediscovered the benefits a little well-formed grousing bestows.

I next attempted to come to grips with my unfamiliar
NewNormalScene, realizing that however alien any candidate for new normal might seem, it holds blessings hidden within its obvious curses.

I stumbled into my
SecretLife next, though I refused to disclose very much of it. Our secret lives seem secret for damned good reasons. Acknowledging their existence seems adequate disclosure. This post proved to be this week's most popular.

I noticed how
Workarounds tend to accumulate and how everything eventually seems to become the sum of its ameliorated shortcomings.

I next dabbled in a bit of fashion criticism in
Shimbolism, though I understand that my comments might make me seem effete to some, promoting my own choices above anyone else's. We might not ever actually be who we pretend to be.

I next professed a deep disbelief in the existence of silver bullets, but instead introduced their real world replacement in
SliverBullets. We save ourselves, it seems, exclusively via insignificant increments.

I ended my writing week by
MakingHistory, not necessarily the headline kind but the more ordinary. I found it reassuring to recognize that every bleeding moment, I'm MakingHistory. So are you. This week's history now, a light snowfall slowing covering its traces.

I realize that I have a scant week and a half left before I finish with this WhatNext Series. I have been trying on ideas for what follows WhatNext, but I dare not disclose that without threatening to jinx it from before its outset. What once seemed another one of those NewNormalScenes eventually became another old familiar. WhatNext still seems to be attracting readers, so maybe its become familiar to you, as well. Through it all—Damned Pandemic, Hell, even high water—I noticed you lingering here and I feel responsible for mentioning your presence, and to remind you how very deeply I appreciate it. Whatever might sustain us while AgingInPlace, the simple grace each other's presence brings seems prominent. Thank you for following along and contributing comments and 'likes.'

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver