Rendered Fat Content


Paul Giambarba: The Withered Arm (c. 1960)

" … no fixing in the immediate offing."

I am taken by how much foreground attention even a superficial wound can command. The Vengeful god residing in my arm leaves it feeling angry and complaining whatever I do. I suddenly seem incapable of accomplishing anything without further insulting that AngryArm. I cannot play catch with my grandson without wounding the thing, so I decline to play. I cannot do anything without incurring more damage. As the list of things I cannot do without wincing continues growing, I wonder where all this might be going. The doctor who diagnosed the ailment (Deltoid Bursitis for those not paying close attention) wrote me a script for a ninety-day supply of remarkably ineffective pain medication. This prescription suggests that he anticipated a longer haul than a short one. I might be hosting this AngryArm for some considerable time to come. I try but fail not to think about this.

Now, everything seems influenced by the presence of this AngryArm, even my Publishing efforts.
It seems in no way excruciating, but it never abates. Sleeping or waking, eating or writing, I seem to be continually running into another reminder that I'm not entirely in charge. Further, I cannot avoid wounding myself more with every chore I attempt. I do not anticipate until too late. I am learning nothing. I continually reach out beyond my comfort level to receive another warning. "Not there," it screams! That's a bridge too far!" I seem to be living way out in front of myself. I ache for some normalcy again.

My AngryArm exists in my backstory. Everyone maintains a backstory that profoundly influences the front story portion of their lives. Backstories mostly remain tacit, publicly unacknowledged, and it seems easy—too easy—to assume away its influence. We see the public side without necessarily acknowledging how superficial any one-sided description of any 'N'-dimensional anything should seem. There's always more than whatever's obvious. We're deeper, broader, and taller than we first seem, our public selves a paper dream.

I fancy that my AngryArm helps me appreciate a tad bit better the struggles of all those I might too easily presume to be my lessers. The ones who maintain addictions more easily than they maintain respectability. Those who seem to have chosen the more arduous road. There's always something twisting the easy explanation. Always other considerations. Always empathy required. We can be a hard-assed species, almost obsessed with accountabilities, expecting, if not perfection, many equally impossible achievements. We each have an AngryArm, an infirmity unique to us and our situation. These seem probable curses more than blessings. These sure seem like shortcomings, clear evidence of something missing, something wanting, something wrong, except there will often be no fixing in the immediate offing.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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