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Gustave Doré: Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1877)
"AllIn and then some … "

When I started this Authoring Series, I went AllIn. Like you, I was reared on the gospel of commitment. If I was going to do something, I should fully engage rather than dabble. I should take my engagements seriously. Consequently, my work has generally become my identity more than my occupation. I understand that when we declare what we do for a living, we say "what we are," this while also insisting that we maintain work/life balance, whatever that might be. For me, my work has usually been my identity, or perhaps I should say that I have largely mistaken my work for my identity. I do seem to become whatever I'm doing. When I throw on my overalls, I become Handyman Dave for the duration of the chore. When I play my guitar, I become David, my single acoustic performing artist self circa 1975, not having aged a minute. When I cook, I cook rather than dabble around the edges. The very minute I started this Authoring Series, I became an author for all intents and purposes. The Refurbisher I'd been the previous quarter disappeared as I focused my attention, heart, soul, body, and spirit on Authoring. Who am I really? Interesting question.

Of course, I was just play acting, for I had few clues then just what Authoring entailed.
Sure, I'd been an author before I began this series, but I had not been AllIn as an Author in ages, so the Author I became, I based upon aspiration much more than any non-fictional representation. Remember that piece I wrote about Robert Lawson [Link], imagining myself in a tweed coat with leather elbow patches and smoking a pipe? Yea, I first became a cartoon caricature of an Author, AllIn but also very likely way off base. Then, I set about attempting to manifest an Authoring practice while imagining myself in that get up, AllIn and then some.

Those who tout going AllIn on something usually fail to mention the externalities involved: the narrowed choices, the absolute boredom emerging from laser focusing upon anything. Variety might be more than simply the spice of life, but an essential side dish, for without it, life sometimes becomes an unadorned dish of the same stuff you had yesterday and the day before, and the horizon also fills with visions of what you've already tasted. All work and no play enter the fray and each day promises even more of even more of the same; boring. Authoring, so engaged, becomes a stage upon which nothing terribly entertaining happens. Dedication takes over then to produce a more or less satisfying martyring experience. Discipline can also serve as its own reward, leaving the protagonist feeling remarkably mature for his age and not really whimpering beneath his self-imposed burden, for he's AllIn, a well-acknowledged reliable producer. See? He produces another essay every single morning. Is he Authoring yet? Maybe.

He slogs through another onerous assignment. He sees the end of the quarter coming and feels an impending doom as well as a relieved sense of release coming. His AllIn engagement might not have bought him anything of substance by then, but he will likely flee in abject Thanksgiving the day the Solstice arrives. A long winter of AllIn intensity will have ended to be exchanged for a fresh and new focus, upon which our protagonist will also feel obligated to overly invest and go AllIn on again. And so goes his existence.

I'm not complaining, merely comparing the world I know with one alien to my experience. To engage without complete investment seems a half-assed sort of commitment, a form of splitting forces. Yet the Renaissance people among us seem to pull off that sort of engagement. They're like chameleons, changing costumes to match whatever background they encounter. They do not change their species, just their color, while I seem to attempt to change much more than my spots when I start a new series. I become the object of my pursuit, or, as I've been demonstrating through this quarter, a cartoon caricature of the Authoring to which I still aspire. I was neck deep in finally creating a proposal, making progress through indifferent quicksand, frequently retiring to lay on my couch or bed as if thinking, AllIn and clearly in over my head. I can still almost see the end of this adventure and it cannot come soon enough for this one. I'm now AllIn and then some, AllIn and overwhelmed, AllIn and out-classed, AllIn and running out of gas. So much for the leather elbow patches.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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