Asympbotic

asymptotic
"I don't know what could possibly replace a sincere lack of foresight. "

Beware the wily asymptote,
he only knows how to run.
He quickly secures essential funding,
then never gets a hundred percent done.


Unlike the wily asymptote, I manage to get things done. Unlike him, my completions tend to happen quickly. My beginnings seem to take forever, though. I operate asympbotically, which is pretty much the opposite of the way our wily asymptote runs. He takes forever to never get completely done while I seem to take forever just getting started. Once started, I quickly complete the task, like a slacker rabbit racing a diligent but slightly misguided tortoise. Many physical operations follow the wily asymptote's path, so many that we generally forgive the asymptote's inevitable shortfall, ascribing it to nature, God's will, or plenty good enough for whatever kind of work we're engaged in. Who are we to insist upon an unnatural outcome?

For about 90% of the duration of any project, I'm convinced that it will never get completed.
Then, suddenly, (always quite suddenly), the end comes into clear focus and relatively easy reach. It becomes a matter of simply scooping it up, hardly a stretch and certainly no deep, humiliating dive. I don't believe in the law of attraction, but I do believe in something like a law of preparation. For me, much of the preliminary work doesn't hardly qualify as work at all, but as preparation: effort engaged in before the effort really begins. For painting, for instance, only the final tippy end of the effort involves paint, the balance reserved for preparation work. Wallpaper works the same way, 90% preparation, 7% cutting, fitting, and hanging, and 3% cleaning up the mess afterwords.

I suspect that the asymptote engages too quickly, failing to hasten slowly enough at the beginning. This seems a completely forgivable foible, since at the beginning, the urge to get to work nearly overwhelms even slacker rabbit me. It takes a nearly inhuman resistance to sidestep the initial seduction and set to work before the boring preparation work's completed. Lay the paint before completing the prep work, though, and the repainting will likely achieve something approaching done-ness without ever really crossing the finish line. A list of necessary finishing touches will stretch toward the far horizon, most of which will never get started, let alone completed.

Us asympbotic folks, though, know that if we can't stomach the over-long prep, we'd never swallow an even longer execution, so while we're prepping, we're fiddling with our expectations, typically downsizing them into something we might swallow, and swallow with sincere satisfaction. The Ancient Romans are said to have insisted upon hastening slowly at the beginning. I suspect that they, too, were asympbotic executors, never starting work without having honed expectations down to human scale. Sure, some of their works seem superhuman today, but they were laid one stone at a time in an era without even steam power in a world lit only by sunshine and fire. The products of their work persist today.

I admit that for what seemed like the longest time, I sincerely doubted that I'd ever actually complete repainting the deck and its seeming ten thousand railing staves. Seeds of that doubt lingered almost up until today. This morning, the portal the asymptotes never know opened up before my eyes. I'm finishing up now, satisfied once again in my prescient ability to never see any end until I almost stumble over it. It seemed like I was still prepping yesterday, but only because I was. The prep work, the slow, endlessly unsatisfying scut work necessary before the real work begins, makes the real work hardly qualify as work at all. I call this asympbotic because I seem to back into done rather than track endlessly toward nearly done. I suspect that my lack of foresight's to blame. It seems if someone knows how to get there and holds a clear conception of where they're going, they become an asymptote, getting ever closer to almost actually done this time, they promise.

I don't know what could possibly replace a sincere lack of foresight.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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