Rendered Fat Content


Dorothea Tanning: Door 84 (1984) (oil on canvas with found door)
"I want to remain a permanent work in progress …"

Twelve weeks into our Grand Refurbishing and one might think that I'm aching for completion. After all, it's so far been three month of fine dust and irresolution. Wouldn't a spot of done do wonders right about now? My honest answer to that question would have to be a steadfast, "No!" I'm not feeling ready to let go of this pursuit, even if the original pursuit has caught up to original intentions. We're still a little shy of crossing the done, done, and done finish line, but intimations have been swarming, threatening our little operation. While the titular purpose of all this fuss and all those feathers was certainly a refurbished Villa, as always happens, a superior purpose appeared while we were on our way to finishing. A manner of living emerged, one submerged in personal aspiration and mystery, striving, disappointment, as well as genuine accomplishment. For a time here, we felt as though we could accomplish anything we set our minds to accomplishing and we daily set ourselves to experiencing that most marvelous process. We've largely succeeded, which propels me into a dance I've experienced many, many, many times before. Let's say that I'm Compleading rather than simply completing. I'm feeling like I don't want to let go of this adventure yet. Closure seems like a form of death more than a sign of success.

It was the same for me when I attended university.
My class schedules were grueling. Schooling brought eighteen and twenty hour days and I suppose that I should have felt delighted when a semester would end and offer me ten days rest, but I'd get depressed instead. I'd go from feeling overloaded to feeling bereft, abandoned without obligation or purpose. I'd ache for the purposeful pursuit which had propelled me through the semester. I missed my torturous schedule, my late nights typing papers with my one good typing finger, my tenuous presence. I'd miss myself. I'd wake the next morning to find a hollow world, one without obligation, one offering no reward, no overwhelming challenge. My grades would come as if they were worth anything. They were not worth the paper they were printed upon. Eventually, I graduated into another world and over time, came to find an acceptable manner of living there, but one far removed from my university one I'd once felt so well suited to inhabit.

My life in retrospect feels like a series of abandonments where I'd work to get somewhere then lose that place I'd accomplished. Those places were never static and each depended upon often frantic effort to maintain, like being a student had. Being a refurbisher brought similar challenges, ones which I can proudly report I somehow managed to rise to meet and integrate. I along with my refurbishing cohorts created a small society perfectly suited to our pursuit, a place that after twelve full weeks, feels every bit like home. This Villa The Muse and I call Home will feel empty once our refurbishing society disbands, taking our mutual challenges and capabilities with it. I fear that we will have refurbished the place into a relatively empty shell, complete but ultimately lacking sustaining purpose. I can't quite see who I'll have to become then, so I'm mentally dragging my heels into completion.

I plead my case though the judge and jury seem distinctly disinterested in justice. One cannot maintain, they insist, every identity one must adopt to get through life. Our identities seem temporary and disposable. We are not intended to be eternal, but fleeting. We do not ever achieve permanence, but tenuous balance and that only for what will certainly seem like narrow periods which always, always, always abandon us too soon. We're then called to reinvent ourselves, having learned absolutely nothing about how to accomplish that end by so recently successfully accomplishing precisely that end. That end left, too, like all the ones before, heartlessly and cruel, leaving only accomplishments and memories, worthless currency when compared to any enlivening manner of living. I want a permanent Pop-up Paint Shoppe, an infinite queue of baseboards needing refinishing, more damned dinged door fronts, not mere accomplishments. I want to remain a permanent work in progress, not someone accomplished.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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