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Willian Frazer Garden: Trees and Undergrowth (1885)

"Appearances effectively deceive."

Much of my training focused upon engaging in purposeful work, activities worth my investment, yet I've spent the bulk of my life engaged in ApparentlyMeaningless effort. This experience does not mean that I have largely invested my time in meaningless work, because there's often a huge difference between the ApparentlyMeaningless and the absolutely meaningless, and I might question whether absolutely meaningless even serves as a meaningful category, given how meaningfulness tends to emerge from even the most ApparentlyMeaningless work. The flat ceiling perhaps serves as the epitome of ApparentlyMeaningless effort. Why do we go to the considerable bother of constructing and maintaining flat ceilings when there's absolutely nothing but custom encouraging that effort? Flat is hard, yet we insist upon it.

My stories comprise my most significant body of ApparentlyMeaningless work.
Some authors feed slavering publishers, ones ready and able to distribute anything, everything they submit. Most, though, work more like me, engaging in ApparentlyMeaningless work, by all appearances unpublishable. Why even engage? I well understand that in this culture, my culture, most of us have been entrained to perform continuous cost/benefit analysis, even upon activities that cost nothing and are intended to benefit nobody. Our objective, I suppose, might be to focus our modest attention upon those activities yielding the highest return, however that's calculated, thereby to ensure a somehow more meaningful life. Those producing the most tangible benefits, apparently win something, probably posthumously awarded.

We might be a capitalist culture, but I hazard that we're not only capitalists. We're also idealists and poets, painters and scribblers. We're gardeners and weeders and strollers and window shoppers, and ten thousand other occupations lacking great significance. I mow my lawn to satisfy my own personal sense of propriety, not to improve the value of my property. I never learned to calculate so finely. I often forget about money. I could hire painters to paint The Villa for perhaps a little less money and a lot less hassle than I'll expend doing it myself, so doesn't even my repainting effort amount to ApparentlyMeraningless effort? The professional painters might even manage to do a better job, so what's supporting my insistence that I must complete the work? Penance?

Whatever motivates ApparentlyMeaningless effort might well be divine inspiration. It's been my experience that I only rarely ever find significance until well after I've finished something. Three years later, I read through a series of stories I wrote but never published and find within some sorely needed inspiration. I was moved to wonder how I could have possibly been so prescient to have known so far in advance just what I would have so desperately needed to see then, in a far distant future, but there it was, produced by my own hand as a part of a then ApparentlyMeaningless effort. Most of the magic in this world began as ApparentlyMeaningless work, produced beneath some utterly banal context, but context shifts and tends to take even apparent meaninglessness along with it, injecting it in some odd moment with the purpose it never before possessed. My point of this story being utterly ironic, there never was and couldn't possibly ever be any such thing as meaningless effort. Appearances effectively deceive.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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