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Duane Stephen Michals:
The Human Condition (1969)

"The Human Condition exclusively works in ways mysterious."

The Human Condition first seems acute and only later appears Chronic. There never was a cure for it, and though it at first seems passing—eminently overcomeable—it isn't. It never was. It seems more applicable to others than to you or me, but it belongs to everybody, though not necessarily equally. I acquire my aches and pains the same way as everybody. They visit, often without discernible reason, first acute, then, some of them becoming Chronic without rhyme or particular cause. The Chronic ones might settle in forever or seem to. My problem centers around my expectations. When I believe my pain's just visiting, I treat it as a guest. They might be my sensations, but I won't take them as seriously as if they were a permanent part of my extended family. Pain or Human Condition seems very much the same; we can reasonably anticipate them bedeviling us again and again and again.

My revelation yesterday transformed a long-standing acute condition into a Chronic one.
I had been waiting to be rediscovered as a writer while dreading ever becoming that fortunate again when I could have—might have—just accepted a future as a vanity author. Once I stepped out of that box, a literal universe opened before me. What had seemed a matter of witchcraft or luck became one hinged upon my interest and the matter of a few bucks. I could purchase the services publishing my books would require. My fate returned to my hands again.

Notice how I didn't mention how many books I might sell. I'm not publishing them to produce a financial return on my investment. I've already invested far more valuable stuff than dollars in producing the manuscripts. Nobody ever expected me to pay myself or make money while writing them. What kind of a schmuck would I have to become to set my expectations that my published books might somehow pay for themselves or me for my "trouble" producing them? The anticipation of financial gain might serve as the most poisonous form of The Human Condition, a Chronic expectation that leaches out more joy than it ever creates happiness. Some human activities seem destined to remain beyond financial frames, and I intend my books to live there without hardly a care.

My shoulder, which for some indefinable reason, started exhibiting the symptoms of Deltoid Bursitis, continues aching and restricting my range of motion. I finally conceded that the condition might be bordering on Chronic and resolved to seek treatment: acupuncture. That would either put the intruder into his place or not, but I would at least gain a warrior's satisfaction in the engagement. I'd put up a fight. The earliest possible appointment for treatment was precisely a month out, which instantly reframed the experience. I'd hoped the pain would only stay for a short visit. Still, if it were Chronic, I would not receive any treatment other than the remarkably ineffective pain medication until it had stayed long enough to become a part of the family. The next day, the pain had lessened. The day after, a little better still. The threat of a Chronic condition sometimes serves as enough of a threat to neutralize it.

The Human Condition exclusively works in ways mysterious.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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