Francisco Goya: (Átropos/Las Parcas), Atropos (The Fates), 1819–1823
"A Can'ticipated catastrophe seems somewhat averted."

Election night brought a waking nightmare, a scare effectively warding off sleep and leaving a rare but familiar sense of foreboding, as if The Fates had found me and were in the process of stealing any remaining self-determination still available to me. I might have set myself up, knowing that I'd optimistically entered the election, what any pessimist would agree might certainly poison any expectation. I watched myself cycle through the three stages of despair: Want To, Need To, But Can't, a condition I might label Can'ticipation. The resulting sense of desperation seems absolutely inescapable, and tends to arrive at what certainly feels like the most inconvenient possible time. I felt utterly unprepared for a fresh round of coping and felt that I even deserved some sort of reward, or at least some recognition, for my the hopefulness and dedication I'd exhibited through an overlong campaign season during The Damned Pandemic. I felt very near the end of anybody's rope and could not afford to imagine that I might have to muster even greater coping skills than I could remember ever mustering before. I spent that long night terrified of the apparently inevitable.

I swore off all news coverage, not wanting to know what I already so deeply felt.
I figured that even if ignorance might not produce bliss, it might provide a bit of respite. I decided that I'd rather not watch what might well become another slow-motion train wreck. I'd seen those before and always found them banal and boring. I'd rather be bushwhacked than cringing, though I continued cringing, anticipating a bushwhacking. I spend the undecided day following trying with every power I possessed to not think of the rhinoceros. This exercise, of course, left me only thinking of rhinoceroses. I found no escape. Small signs of hopefulness only made the situation seem worse. He might pull ahead. Those frivolous lawsuits might find traction. I caught myself reviling anyone embracing the sorry status quo. Loyal opposition became willful destruction in my mind, and I could not muster kind thoughts toward any of them. They became more 'them' than I'd ever before considered them, hardly the same species as me. I'm fairly certain that 'they' were mirroring me.

The following day, it seemed likely that The Fates might have somehow shown up at the wrong address on election night, that they had no special delivery worst case scenario to deliver to me after all. I barely breathed a sigh of relief, though I found that I could eat supper that night, that food had stopped sticking in my craw. When I was four or five, my older sister, older brother, and I (aka The Big Kids) were scheduled for tonsillectomies. I flunked the blood test and was sent home with a reprieve and a prescription for cod liver oil. I experienced reprieve for the first time then, though a few weeks hence, I went to the hospital alone and better knowing my fate, bringing along an amplified version of Can'ticipation. I survived but never forgot the Impending Doom sensation. I still have little resistance to that particular virus. It seems to get me every time, though it's not yet quite managed to do me in.

Some insist that Can'ticipation is optional, that anyone might more calmly accept any fate. I don't believe them. I imagine calmly entering each ordeal, confident of my innate ability to deal with whatever results, but I sense that I'm asserting something significant about myself what I turn into a snowflake under the threat of demise, even of a cherished idea. Were I not so damned important to me, I might calmly accept any fate. Since I seem so integral to every experience, I grieve and quake in anticipation of losing any chunk of myself. Some suggest mindfulness meditation as an antidote. I've been engaging in regular meditation for almost fifty years. For me, meditation calms nothing, and shouldn't. Those Can'ticipations that don't actually kill me might even make me stronger, but I have no parallel experience with which to compare. I sense that these over-long evenings serve as a sort of seasoning. Should the worst come to pass, I've by then expended much dread. Should The Fates pass me by, as they seem to have done this go-round, I might experience a greater appreciation for the resulting salvation than I otherwise might have. I consider my Can'ticipation time well-invested. Whether it ends in fire, ice, or something much nicer, Can'ticipation shaves off some trauma by pre-expending it. Even a great success might bring a slice of punishment. A Can'ticipated catastrophe seems somewhat averted.

None of us were able to avert Friday from appearing, whatever the week's background chaos might have threatened. I feel crazier when under duress, less focused, but perhaps more present than usual, since I sense no escape. The Fates delivered seven fresh creations this week:

I began by considering how some serious psychological disorders have been codified into law as rights and privileges in
Psycholitics, concluding that we might reasonably consider politics a form of psychotherapy performed by unlicensed therapists.

I then caught myself appreciating my readers, lurkers, and commenters as a form of parade during This Damned Pandemic in

I next suggested that "It might be that every authentic Voice sounds phony to itself," in
Voicing, by far the most popular posting of the week and one of the most popular ever!

I reframed the usual notion of the
MillionDollarDream by proposing that these might never attract a million bucks but still prove well worth pursuit.

I reconsidered the smooth flow of time in
TimeBubbles, where I reported about an experience markedly different from any clock represents.

I questioned the utility of displacing identity with identification in

And I ended my writing week with a cat story in
Domesticity, where I appreciated feral as an under-appreciated form of domestication.

After an over-long and dread-filled week, this Friday seems capable of holding promise again, though I understand that almost half of us feel as though The Fates really had it in for them, for their Can'ticipation left real shadows behind. May none of us lose our minds over the outcome, however reassuring or disappointing, a few weeks featuring spoonsful of cod liver oil should set us up for more seasoned Can'ticipation again. We might just be experiencing the human condition, and not the end of any world. Who knows What'sNext?

Thank you so much for following along with me here!

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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