Rendered Fat Content


Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas:
Study for "Young Spartan Girls Challenging Boys"
Former Title: Study for "The Young Spartans Exercising"
Alternate Title: Petites Filles Spartiates provoquant des Garcons /
Spartan Girls Provoking the Boys (c. 1860-61)

"I'm just wrestling down another run-of-the-mill conundrum."

From where I stand atop the scaffolding, I cannot quite see into the one valley on my roof that manages to catch every bit of debris that passes by. There's a clog of accumulated leaves, Maple tree whirligigs, and hardened mud rendering the gutter in that corner, the only inside corner along that roofline, essentially inoperable. When it rains, water pours over the gutter and down onto the fiberglass roof of my cold frame, sounding like an arrhythmic timpani behind the rain's otherwise quiet patter. This clog hangs just above the slice of wall I'm currently Challenging myself to repaint.

I was taught that in order to feel fully alive, a person needs at least one great and almost overwhelming Challenging expectation hanging over their life.
Finding the proper balance of Challenging might have always been the greatest challenge, because I've always found it impossible to discern the difference between the merely Challenging and the utterly impossible until after one ends. Before then, I notice a fluctuating sense of blessing and curse, uncertain which might come to dominate the experience. Until I've overcome something truly Challenging, it's winning and I usually feel like an impending loser. It's not true, either, that a steady diet of Challenging experience eventually renders one courageous. It seems more likely to render one if not permanently paranoid, at least temporarily so.

I do not know as of this writing whether I will rise to this latest provocation and overcome this latest Challenging condition. I could, I suppose, hire some steeplejack to bring in his ladder and rid me of this terrible clog, but hiring it done seems to somehow violate the covenant under which I'm attempting to repaint The Villa's exterior. Further, the leak seeps onto the soffit and down part of the wall I'm intending to finish and I'd rather those surfaces dry out completely before I repaint them. I can't wait. It's a conundrum. Challenging situations always seem to turn themselves into conundrums. Distilled into folk wisdom, I guess the old injunction insisting upon continually facing Challenging situations insists that we're somehow better if always attempting to untangle conundrums. I've come to doubt the underlying wisdom of this apparently faux folk wisdom. Would it be tragic for me to just face run-of-the-mill solvable problems for a spell?

I've already established that I tend to be a
BigChicken when it comes to facing up to most any truly Challenging situation. A lifetime so far of facing challenges has not rendered me appreciably more facile in facing even the least of them. I fritter away much time analyzing such situations, analyzing being my technical term for cringing. In the event that I do manage to overcome the blockage, nothing like a sense of permanent liberation follows, for I know for certain that another one, very likely even more Challenging, lurks just around the next corner. If anything, today's success, if achieved, often ups the ante for the next hand. There never seems to be any end.

I had thought, naively, I guess, that I'd eventually reset my ability to respond to such Challenging, that I'd quite naturally grow stronger for having survived so very many prior ordeals. I most likely haven't. But then I have also not become a weasel, either, one of those fish bellies who turn to jelly whenever anything Challenging threatens their hegemony. I remain just as BIG a chicken as I ever was, and I find that aspect of my true self rather endearing. The fact is that I often recognize that I do not know and cannot know yet how each chapter might resolve itself, not until later. I know for fairly certain that I will, later this morning, clamber up onto the tippy top of that scaffolding and try, try, try again to face down this latest Challenging situation. Expect no film at eleven. I'm just wrestling down another run-of-the-mill conundrum.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver