Rendered Fat Content


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: At the Moulin Rouge (1892–95)
"I have been an unworthy beneficiary …"

I told The Muse that her birthday poem was back ordered, probably on a container ship held offshore at Long Beach until a dock opens up and then dependent upon a driver being available to transport it from there to here. Who knows when it might appear? It's been a queer year, and especially odd for refurbishing this old place, since supplies have been in historically short supply. The glass guy reports shortages of glass, for instance. The paint store had six gallons of the base I needed when they should have had hundreds, here in the middle of high painting season, and even then I'd had to upgrade to a more premium version. The doors and windows we ordered in April might not arrive here this year. If they arrive earlier, the installers are over-scheduled and unavailable at any price. Everything's in short supply. I bought three preemptive gallons of trim paint I didn't quite need yet to prevent running out in the future and shutting down our refurbishing efforts until who knows when. Nobody knows. We're all torn apart here and cannot wait long to achieve complete enough to close up for fall and winter. Closure's also back ordered.

My creative spark seems on back order, too.
Since I ditched the nicotine habit, I've been noticing an uncertain lessening of the spark, the one I apparently always relied upon without knowing I was relying upon it. For me, writing just seemed to happen. People would ask after my inspiration, but I wouldn't know how to answer. It was like breathing to me. Motivation remained unnecessary. Words flowed, often unbidden. But my internal narrator seems to have somewhat silenced. I look inside and find few words awaiting my arrival. I tried to write The Muse's birthday poem and eventually came to acknowledge that I'd failed. I sensed that perhaps I'd rechanneled my creative spark into refinishing doors and was destined to become an uninteresting laborer, one without coherent observations and unable to engage in conversations, even with himself.

I understand that the fate of man involves eventually embracing irrelevance. What we once did without thinking, we'll come to be unable to do for anything. It's not as if this news could be a surprise, but who among us feels prepared to embrace this experience? We're seemingly much better at denial than we'll even become at acceptance. Rock bands from the sixties still tour to perform for fans in their seventies while they slip into their eighties, never too old to die young and rebellious. Should they not have moved on by now? Taken up some fresh and more relevant obsession? I wonder for myself whether I remain capable of cranking out stories with substance. What once flowed seems increasingly hesitant.

No writer, no artist ever earns the right to publicly flout self pity. I'm expressing confusion over the mystery of gifts received and of gifts denied, neither bidden, neither understood. I have been an unworthy beneficiary but what if the beneficence ended? Who would I become without this gift which was never mine? Surely it's not yet that time. One day, of course, but certainly not yet. A time will come when genius melts, when brilliance dulls, when whatever it was will be no longer. Thieves in the night make more ruckus. Sunrises and sunsets leave bigger footprints.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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