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Ambivalence

ambivalence
Head of Medusa, originally attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci.
This painting was later believed to have been created by a Flemish painter in the late 16th or early 17th century.

"Authoring seems to want its own pace …"


Nearly forty days into my Authoring effort, I notice a few snakes in my head. I know, like you know, that a genuine Hero's Journey should feature a steadfast and stalwart hero, someone holding unwavering dedication, not someone questioning his charter or purpose, yet this hero has been holding a few questions. I've found through decades of engagements, that at some point—it doesn't really matter if that point comes nearer the beginning, middle, or end—it can prove useful to apply some focused ambivalence upon an imperative effort. Especially if it seemed as if it absolutely has to get finished … or else, that there exists no reasonable alternative to successfully navigating the course, no matter how harrowing, that not succeeding would be tantamount to failure, it's especially important to reconsider again just how essential the effort might have not become. Is the race still worth running? Or else what?

I store this tactic in my Anything But That! drawer, one I only rarely ever open.
Second guessing myself should not be an everyday activity, but more of a once in a blue moon alternative, if that. Not every imperative really needs second guessing, perhaps only the very most significant ones do, for there are few sorrier actions than the passionate pursuit of something grown moot, some objective no longer worthy of achieving or grown unlikely to result in much of any positive benefit. Just asking the question can seem an act of betrayal. If the hero won't maintain an unwavering focus, the whole enterprise might crumble. My ambivalence asks the question because if that simple act could upend this pursuit, it might need upending. If it can survive a little twilight in the protagonist's soul, it might better champion its cause. I expect to either find an even better reason to continue pursuing Authoring or a reasonable excuse for focusing my meager attention somewhere else. I figure that either course would represent a win.

This seeming side trip does not fit into the chivalrous storyline we were spoon fed as infants. Little about the real world as actually practiced jibes with what we were told to expect. We are almost never unwaveringly brave, for instance, and often weep and cower before eventually standing up or not, and we also sometimes sidestep the straight and narrow paths provided. These actions say much more about the expectations than they ever do about the practitioner. Real heroes are complex beings, not single-dimensional Dudley Do-right Mounties. We still manage to save our share of imperiled heroines, but not usually in the way we were told we were supposed to save them. Many heroines seem perfectly capable of saving themselves. We cannot credibly label these differences as errors of either judgement or practice. The hero's legendary laser focus was apparently just part of the mythos and not necessarily part of the actual hero-ing practice. How confusing.

I'm still learning that there's no such thing as unrepresentative behavior. Whatever I do when engaging in something sort of somehow represents that I'm engaging. Taking a break is an integral part of working, for it enables continuing even though, on the surface, it might just seem like so much shirking. Rethinking an end might well improve that end in ways that unwavering pursuit could not. Rethinking my concept of Authoring seems an integral part of Authoring, it might just be what Authoring is, or was supposed to become. So, what if I didn't finish to the point of publishing? What if I "chickened out" on the effort and myself? Could I live with that? Would I go into a depressive slump as if I'd undermined any hope for a beneficial future? Would I have retired in shame in lieu of becoming famous or would I have cleverly avoided becoming infamous? Hummmm, … no way to know.

So, what do I know? I don't know much. I know that I've been leaking energy recently, but then it IS high
Janruary, the horizonless season, and also low pandemic, endless surges and sequestrations. This is not the season to expect to spark unbounded enthusiasm about anything. This seems the season for quiet reflection, to build a small fire and cozy in with the kittens, to read something besides my own writing for a little change. A time to take some of that self-imposed pressure off myself, the velocity I'd inherited from The Grand Refurbish we finished last month without completely finishing. Authoring seems to want its own pace, more that of a walking horse than a steeplechase. A touch of strategic Ambivalence seems especially well placed right now.

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This Friday ends a roller coaster ride of a week for me. I've been all over the place while mostly staying right at home, deeply dismayed at the state of This Damned Pandemic. I spent the week trying to make sense of the non-sensical, perhaps a hopeless effort. I revisited my practice and my vision and managed to muster strategic Ambivalence as a result. This, too, amounts to progress of the sort of which Authors become accustomed. Nobody mass produces passionate pursuits.

I began my writing week
SenseMaking. "My life and my craft seem to be all about SenseMaking, not necessarily about making sense, the difference not necessarily being that obvious."

I then revisited my vision for what I'm doing with this Authoring stuff in
a clean, well-lighted place. "One does not attract a future through determined logistics alone, but also by sheer imagining, the less specific, probably the better."

I next caught myself working early Sunday morning and commenced to reflecting about my relationship with
TimeOff, producing my most popular posting of the week. "My work often seems my burden, but more often my joy. The effort sometimes overwhelms me, but what, I wonder, would I rather have overwhelm me?

I realized that everything about Authoring demands heartfelt
Cœurage to accomplish. "A seduction entices whenever I engage in my craft, an urge to produce work that's better than it is. Perfect prose describing an imperfect world. Perfect authorship to package less than perfect writing."

I caught myself in the middle of a
GrandDelusion. "I subscribe to the school of thought that believes in the absolute necessity of maintaining a GrandDelusion in one's life. Without one, I'm sunk."

I broke a cardinal rule by describing what actually occurs behind the fog bank obscuring my Authoring in
HollowingDays. "… from outside the fog globe, it might seem that magic's brewing behind the obscuring cloud, and magic might well result, but mostly nothing's brewing back there. An author's stewing in his own meager juices, bored spitless through the more virulent HollowingDays of his effort."

In spite of or because of my roller coaster ride week, I ended my writing week by proclaiming myself one of
TheFortunateFew. "Between the bright idea and the exit lights, we fight a steady headwind. We learn better no matter how we wish we wouldn't and didn't absolutely have to."

Whatever I might be doing here, I consider you, dear reader, to also be a member in good standing of TheFortunateFew. We're in this together, even the most distant observer, for I suspect that my Authoring dance varies little from whatever dance you're attempting, our primary differences probably being the similarities we might insist do not exist. The most personal remains the most universal: SenseMaking, chasing after some vague empowering feeling, relentless, Cœuragous, deluded, hollowing, and ever so fortunate for being here together. Wish me luck as I set about building up and out from my new strategically Ambivalent base. Thanks for following along!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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