"When BeginningAgain, the unlikeliest rule."

I once believed in The Syphon Theory of Life, that I might struggle to get myself established, but once successful, my "skills" would thereafter defy gravity to produce a relatively effortless inflow. I admit to experiencing short stints of this sort of existence, but those periods were in every case separated by fresh struggles, not all of which resulted in relatively effortless inflow. Several of these separations seemed to completely strip me of any of my hard-earned sense of mastery. In some, my earlier successes seemed suddenly irrelevant. In others, my precious community seemed to evaporate, though it was more likely that I disappeared. In most, I felt much worse off for my past accomplishments, as if their sole purpose had been to distract me from some necessary reinvention ahead. I eventually and quite begrudgingly abandoned my faith in The Syphon Theory of Life in favor of a budding belief in reinvention.

Reinvention lacks the alluring promise The Syphon Theory offered.
It dangles no likelihood of eventually violating any physical law or property. I no longer expect any fluid to crawl uphill to my benefit, to purchase a winning lottery ticket, or to encounter a gatekeeper/connector excited by the prospect of escorting me into The Good Life. I expect to perhaps stumble upon satisfying occupations, attractive without offering advancement or increase. I no longer aspire to ever become rich or famous, and consider both outcomes more punishment than reward. I simply aspire to do my work, honestly and humbly, without expecting to profit from engaging in it. The promise of increase or ease seems on reflection to be the trap distracting me from appreciating things as they were. They kept my eyes on the horizon rather than on the present, and smothered aspiration in a fog of self-important presumption. I ain't much.

I ain't much but have sometimes aspired to become more, to what end, I cannot crisply recall. I've finished seven book-length manuscripts over the last seven quarters, each parceled out in daily doses on my PureSchmaltz Blog; this to the quiet appreciation of a small, self-selected audience. I've wrestled with the so-what question. Was I plotting to publish these works? Would I try to identify another gatekeeper to champion my cause? What was my cause, anyway, and what might be the effect of such an initiative? Some colleagues counseled me to just keep my head down and continue doing my good work, that it really might be its own reward. Others pouted over my apparent ambivalence, encouraging me to promote myself as if this world had devolved into such a sorry state that I might reasonably presume the capacity to change it for the better. I'm uncertain which of these wise counsellors played the role of angel and which advocated the devil's perspective. I only know for certain that I found myself sitting in the middle of much good advice.

This week, I found myself unable to write, a state roughly equivalent to losing my ability to breathe. I slipped into a sort of suspended animation state, neither here nor there nor anywhere, really. The Muse took the car to work, me ninny enough to decline the opportunity to drop her off and keep the car in the snow storm, so I was stranded. Home alone without my usual superpower, the keyboard glowering malevolently at me from across the room. I'd decided to see if maybe these writings might prove to be publishable, a choice that seemed to disqualify my more comfortable engagement, my quiet almost solitary mastery. This decision nudged me out into a faster lane without the benefit of wheels, turning me into a stray dog wandering into traffic, oblivious and obviously confused. I'd invited contractors in to investigate expanding the size of my sequestering closet and to produce rough estimates which will most certainly shock and gall me. I finally recognized that I was BeginningAgain.

The first few outreaches seemed to respond by trying to take a bite out of my hand, though they managed to shock me out of a certain complacency. If I am to do something different, I'd need to embrace some difference, some alien stranger unlikely to become my friend. When BeginningAgain, the unlikeliest rule. Unlike mastery, which learns to properly discern and thereby limits the potential for catastrophe, the beginner exposes himself to every tout and fraud trolling for fresh victims. The price tag dangles from the side brim of my fresh fedora and everyone except me can see it twisting there. I've published before, but never like this. I've built relationships and communities, but never like these. Each fresh dry hole imparts no more than a hint of a course correction, and usually unknowingly. My gut tightens in recognition of just how virginal I present myself now. I miss my misbegotten mastery more than I can explain.

The fact that I find myself writing this essay this morning represents another attempt to come to terms with my emerging new normal. I've been reaching out, an initially plaintive proposition. I say I need your help, but doubt my worthiness. I swim through full blown panic attacks which The Muse says she hasn't seen me exhibit for twenty years. A weird wind seems to blow through me, dedicated to chasing me back into a more familiar status quo, but I'm not going there yet. I found some promise backwashing at me from those first fumbling connections, and a fresh constellation seems to be emerging. This one unlike anything I've witnessed before, informed by my prior masteries but also considerably confused by them. I'm experiencing a few fresh ideas, BeginningAgain.

FindingHome is not always accompanied by a sense of exhausted relief, but sometimes a terrifying realization. I know this space well, a place I'd usually categorized as an in-between, and not really a space at all. Still, re-entering for the first time again, I recognize it as a sort of home I'd never recognized as a home at all. I'm leading with the wrong foot. Check! I have little idea where this might leave me. Check! I feel strangely enlivened by the sudden uncertainty. Check! I'm already too deep into it for any force to shove me all the way back to the way it was before. Certainly, the near future will most certainly be shoving me sideways more than forward. I can't even envision what forward might look like from here. Onward, then. Just onward.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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