Rendered Fat Content


Hans Sebald Beham:
Adam zittend op boomstronk met appel in zijn hand
[Adam sitting on a tree stump with an apple in his sinning hand] (1519)

" … a seemingly secret path to actually achieving it …"

The Muse had been complaining for months about the trash wood pile on the front porch. The pile, the natural product of last year's Grand Refurbish, needed cleaning up and we both knew that it was my responsibility to clean it up, and yet that job had never risen to the top of my UnfinishedBusiness queue until yesterday. I knew that I'd have to clean up that mess before we could replace the brick pillars around the front porch, but that job had crept into the unlikely category as Summer threatened to turn into Fall. It was supposed to start in Late August. Further, just that morning, Our Carpenter Joel, in his role as prime contractor for the repillering job, had reported that the contractor he'd lined up last Spring had gone incommunicado, apparently communicating by not communicating that he'd decided not to do the job after all. Suddenly, there was even less urgency to clean up that pile.

It's not that I hadn't contributed considerable brain power to considering how to satisfy The Muse's request.
I'd realized a few days before that I'd been mischaracterizing the work as something other than at root a sorting problem. Cleaning up might have served as the goal, but it would not happen directly. There had to be a medium for accomplishing cleaned up. The wood wouldn't just disappear. Further, several classes of wood co-existed in the pile, some, clearly kindling, others, likely useful for other purposes. I recognized at least four classes, each with distinct uses, each suggesting different storage, almost none of it just discardable. Sorting seemed the key. And sorting's sorta unique as activities go, for the end product remains temporary. Sorting problems unfold in stages, never directly. They're like manipulating the yarrow sticks when casting an I Ching reading, almost randomly unfolding, but purposeful.

I was tardy. The Muse clearly had lost patience when her Fung Shui mind started describing the pile as "a cancer on the throat of the house," suggesting that the presence of the pile might have set up a context within which she'd developed a cancer in her throat. Whether I bought that analogy or not, she'd upped the stakes. I set to sorting. The job itself took no more than two or three hours. It left a pile of unresolved wood in the driveway, but also left the porch back to the way it hadn't been in over a year. As I neared the end of this UnfinishedBusiness, Joel Our Carpenter, acting in his role a prime contractor, walked up the front walk with another man in tow, a man he introduced as a concrete contractor. I zing zapped up spine as I recognized just what was happening. As soon as I'd cleaned up that pile, the long-stalled pillar work started manifesting. I'd not so much been sorting boards as CreatingContext.

If one really wants to create a certain future, it's almost never done by directly creating. It's most often achieved by CreatingContext within which that future will more likely manifest. It's a standard application of the If You Built It, They Will Come Development Model. Give that future a reason to appear and suddenly it's there. I might have been standing on my own garden hose, complaining about the municipal water pressure as I impatiently waited for that other concrete contractor to get started. I had been the primary inhibiting factor, holding that wanted future at bay until the very day I set about clearing out the blockage.

This describes the insidious nature of UnfinishedBusiness. Within that queue lies not simply some to-do list items, but the chief inhibitors of wanted futures. The association's often subtle yet pronounced once an item's finally dispatched. It's a sort of self-inflicted magic, I guess, that while I'm working with one intention, I'm also creating space for some other outcome, perhaps one that's been stalled for ages without real hope of ever manifesting. Then suddenly, as if by magic—no, scratch that, BY magic—the future shows up. Kurt Our Painter had stopped by yesterday and I'd mentioned that our concrete contractor had bailed. We quickly agreed that he'd probably bailed because somebody much better suited to complete the job was supposed to complete it, since that's the way this world seems to work. Each apparent blockage to progress, a seemingly secret path to actually achieving it, CreatingContext within which that future might finally manifest.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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