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"A pocket full of Closure seems a poor reward for touching the face of God."

As a project nears completion, as the long-anticipated moment of Closure nears, nobody's planning any ticker tape parades down Fifth Avenue; quite the opposite. A creeping sense of imminent demise stalks the effort, gravity works overtime while everyone else arrives late and leaves early. The workspace seems increasingly flatter, as each completed component subtracts from the breadth and width of the small universe the project unavoidably created when it began. Infinite aspiration recedes into all-too finite acceptance and the almost begrudging acknowledgement that the adventure portion of the program has ended. All the significant choices having already been made, the world no longer stretches before anybody, but shrinks around what only those who were there will ever fully appreciate. We feel somehow smaller than we thought we would. Ready the fork. We're nearly done.

In this culture, we talk as if completion was somehow the purpose of activity, as if effort were the medium and Closure better embodies the "real." The remaining artifact never fairly represents the effort invested in producing it.
The legacy effects might emanate across generations to come but the in-the-moment engagement evaporated the moment it appeared. The brush stroke inhabits a split second. The line of paint outlives the painter. That errant drip of paint remaining in the corner of the door panel says more to the future than the days of effort expended to select, strip, sand, and prime the damned thing. The small decision that left not the best board prowing the most prominent corner might prove to summarize the thousands of set-up hours spent prepping that corner to receive that board. Our grandchildren will wonder what we were thinking. So will we.

Do we work to retire from work? The story seems to insist that we do, but if this were the case, why the cloud hovering over the final assignments? Why the tears as the trailer receives the clutter which has complicated and enabled the work site since that very first day? Why the frantic early effort and the reluctant later hand? We might ache for some different something, some different anything, finally weary of the now too-predictable peccadilloes of our once-mysterious cohorts, but we grieve as if losing something significant. What more significant anything could possibly emerge now to better what we so vehemently complained about for the last long time?

The original plan displayed more naivety than prescience, thank heavens. What besides ultimately alarming innocence could ever encourage such enthusiastic engagement? What besides such lofty aspirations could possibly eventually leave us feeling this bereft. Oh, the new kitchen looks more lovely than we imagined and (a BIG AND), we witnessed the sausage-making, from slaughter to sizzling breakfast sausage, we've killed and cooked and excuse us, please, if we hardly have the stomach to nibble even the tiniest bite. We became so involved that our usual behavior monitors fell away and we displayed the people we know ourselves to be but rarely acknowledge to others, even to ourselves, hardly ever really catching ourselves being ourselves. Some took umbrage, others reassurance. We were never more human than when our passionate pursuit of our intentions threatened to discredit who we originally presented ourselves to be but never were. Artifice slipped out of our grasp at times. We each found opportunity to hope those who watched us slip witnessed with generous hearts.

The result will never be what we imagined when we began. Some might hold this difference against us, as if we somehow held some sacred responsibility to manifest what they imagined without ever finding the ability to accurately describe. We held two blueprints, each of us, the one drafted to contain the creative energies and the one insistent upon adapting to the way those energies seemed to be flowing. The result seems false to both, perhaps truer to a higher-order schematic none of us sensed informing us. We might later recognize that we were alive for this frustrating passage and that, once landed on the long-anticipated once-distant shore, living must come to an end. The Closure we sought served as adequate initial motivation, but we now see that it can only kill us off. The cobbled-together coalition concludes. It ceases to exist once that final top coat dries and the kitchen comes into everyday use. The prominence it took when unusable for the purpose intended will fade into a new normal background, soon no longer even a new normal, just background.

The part of my brain which could not let the vision rest will lose focus and the laser-like attention will scatter and spread. I might worry less but catch myself laughing less, too, absent this grand obsession, with only Closure to reward me. I might have gained a fine bagful of magic beans, but lost an under-appreciated reliable old cow. I miss myself already, that self who only comes out to play before Closure closes down the playground. No threat of skinned knees or slivered fingers. Hardly anything threatening me and my altogether too-sacred self-esteem, I find little reason to think very much of myself. I'll pack away those work gloves with the worked-through fingers, package up the brushes and trays, and simply go away, leaving much of myself behind. A pocket full of Closure seems a poor reward for touching the face of God.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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