DifferentLies


"I was there all along …"

On the last day of summer, change does not seem like the universal positive anymore. This culture worships change. We each seem to fervently believe in it as the ultimate redeemer, which means that we subtly despise stasis. We think that if we're not growing, not continuously on some trajectory or another, that we're as good as dead, or, more, precisely, as bad as dead. Dead is the worst condition in our panoply of possible states. Forward, backward, sideways, we're a kinetic species, always supposed to be on the move somewhere, heading. We're quickly dissatisfied with any accomplishment, shortly bored by any status quo. About a quarter of the people who paid a minimum of forty bucks to attend the game will leave before the game ends, saying that they wish to avoid the heavy traffic on their way to somewhere else. We can't seem to find satisfaction standing still.

Still, for all of our movement, all of our building momentum, things don't often seem that much different. It's as if our collective motion somehow sums to little or to even no motion at all.
Relatively speaking, if we're all frantically moving, frantic motion becomes the new baseline stasis. Even those buzzing motorcyclists, weaving through traffic at a hundred miles an hour, seem to arrive nowhere, only faster. Wherever they go, they find themselves there, sometimes seemingly passing themselves along the way, only to find themselves waiting at the end of their harrowing journey. Maybe we live like this because we've grown accustomed to, maybe even addicted to, the sensation of wind whipping through our hair. Maybe it's just our identities instantiating themselves.

We seem, on this last day of summer, to be a species constantly, frantically invoking an endless identity function, producing changes that result in absolutely no change at all, but only endlessly preserve the original value as a result of the calculation. I ask, "Who am I?," but I might be wondering where I am, because wherever I look, I seem to find myself already there somewhere, impatiently awaiting my arrival and ready to start moving again. I watch my countdown clock. All through summer, I attended to the damned thing, every morning wondering how many days I had left before this timeless season would end, before trying to engage timelessly again. Impending deadlines mean nothing in any isolated moment other than to perhaps motivate me to more frantically invoke my identity function which will reliably produce exactly the value I entered into it. By the end of the allotted time, like by the morning of the last day of summer, it's still summer and I'm still me and I'm no more or less clueless than I was nearer the beginning or even when I stood exactly halfway here, wherever that might have been.

I wake up hopeful that this day might turn out to be more of the same. I find it difficult some days to deliberately muster even more of the same, but my identity function labors quietly to my benefit in the close background. My efforts have produced no great transformation yet. My physician asked after my health care goals this summer and I responded with a dumb stare. "Do I have to have health care goals? Will it be okay if I'm satisfied as I am?" I don't think he understood that he'd passed this identity function a little double bind. If my goal is to continue maintaining my identity function, does that intention really qualify as a goal?

To 'Want Not' amounts to a great and grave sin in our culture. The whole society seems predicated on the presumption that everyone will continue to want, and will even escalate their wants over time. We hold a hierarchy of wants self evident. Of course we each want a nicer house, more financial security, a faster car, a more loving family, a more satisfying career. If the wanting never ends, the wanting seems to yield no difference, only DifferentLies, differences in name only, our birthright identity function whatever we might do. We're each laboring to maintain convincing illusions of great change, with each fresh promising possibility enlivening our lives, perhaps even more than any actual achievement might. Achievement seems iffy, since it might imply or even insist upon an end, maybe only a temporary cessation, of the wanting identity function. We might recognize ourselves even there, without the necessarily attendant fuss and feathers, and we might wonder too deeply where we thought we were going all that time.

The future arrives unaided, whatever anyone might will or wherever one might wander innocently believing that they're making progress. The Arrival of another Autumn, another Fall, does not constitute any progress at all, but merely another repetition in an infinite pattern, another difference that while seemingly stark will yield no difference at all. I will most likely recognize myself there, too, surrounded by flaming foliage rather than overflowing petunia planters, but the very fact that I find myself there probably means that I was there all along, the product of a now well-practiced identity function producing differences that sum to no real difference at all.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus