Rendered Fat Content


Caravaggio: Saint Jerome in Meditation (1606)
"Doneness, a negotiated settlement."

Back when I consulted with projects, I noticed the curious relationship every project seemed to have with doneness. Similar to each project's initial charter, none managed to muster a very complete description of their destination. "What will 'done' look like," I'd ask, as if that constituted a reasonable question. And most accepted the question with a tinge of guilt, just as if they'd known that they really should have answered that question as a precedent before beginning. None had very clearly described their requisite initial conditions, either, which might just be a polite way to say that their project had gone off half-cocked. They'd garnered permission to start, even received funding, with hardly a half-assed notion of what they would be doing. I came to understand this state as a necessary one, and in no way evidence of the least bit of aberrance. Everyone did it this way for the simple reason that no alternative existed or could be accessed in real or any other time. Sure, each effort could improve by better defining its identity and its objective, but no project ever successfully satisfied their aspiration to have actually done either. Done, I came to understand, was not a state, though one might negotiate into an acceptance that they had achieved some good-enough state of description, but only after having achieved that state, never in anticipation or at the moment of arrival. Done is a reflection, a tardy recognition, not a discernible or definable place. Stuff gets Done-d, never done.

Done-d usually feels like an abandonment to me.
I seek to achieve, fall a little short or wide, then concede that I have nothing further to add to the effort, but only after some continued nudging without much effect. Even the more mundane daily chores seem to follow this pattern. I believe that I've never once started a dishwasher load without reopening at least once it to add just one more forgotten fork. Once the load's run, I often find something else that I might have included in that load, but overlooked. Writing my annual Christmas Poem Cycle, I begin believing that I probably need a dozen or so to consider the effort done, but my exit criteria's undefinable at first. Some years, I nudge out fifteen in the four days I allocate to completing the task. Other years, fewer than ten. Eventually, I come to understand again that I'm aiming at less than a fuzzy target and remember that done will probably become something different this year than forever before. I'm not rewarded by volume. One, just one, might suffice to satisfy a generous acceptance of doneness, but only once that one's been written and I've expended some subsidiary fussiness. Then I might accept such a different definition of done and experience Done-d.

I'm learning to just let things run until they seem to have expended the energy I intended to invest in them. I appreciate, looking forward, that we never actually finished moving in here and so will very likely never complete the HeadingHomeward, either. We're shifting our heading but still HeadingHomeward, and will probably always be heading there, never fully arriving or inhabiting. Zeno, with his logical and confusing puzzles proving no arrow could ever find its mark was not far from correct in his assertions, since experience seems to more closely mirror his logic than any other, especially when considering human behavior. Past experiences might never actually pass, but trail along beside, behind, and within those who participated in them. I'm still writing my Poem Cycle, even though I finally declared the effort done, or Done-d. Every time I read one of the finished ones, I identify a candidate for further editing. They're apparently living things.

Aging might result from the steady accumulation of so-called results, things started which we unsuccessfully attempted to abandon but which seem determined to never fully abandon us. A slight residue of each doing seems to permanently stick, weighting down further engagement, leaving us, eventually, bent and a little twisted. We never deal anything without also being dealt in, the eventual accumulation from which ultimately does us in. We cannot blithely scrape our boots off before entering. We leave footprints everywhere. I'm here and also there, eventually spread so thin that sunlight slips right through me. I might not speak of my accomplishments, for I've had none, though I acknowledge that I'm still actively accomplishing. Later, after, I might notice that I'd once Done-d something without actually experiencing it then.

Christmas begins sometime before Halloween these days, initially ill-defined and mostly impending. It later begins attempting to emulate prior ones, finding points of clear divergence. By Thanksgiving, this one's begun to develop a personality of its own. Traditional practices mix with emerging imperatives until, finally, Christmas seems to come, though the celebration usually features a long nose and an even longer tail. I might notice around Epiphany that it's gone and declare it Done-d, though I'll very likely continue to find leftover pieces of it lingering within my orbit until well into Lent. Christmas Day seems so much fantasy. Doneness, a negotiated settlement.

Just because Friday comes doesn't mean a writing week's done. Each wants a little punctuation before it's Done-d, and even then some concluding conversation might come, sparking even further consideration ad infinitum. This one's no exception.

I began my writing week anticipating the conclusion of my WhatNext Series with
EmptyNexting, where I considered how much time I expend anticipating and how different that seems from predicting.

I then considered, in my seemingly weekly obligatory rant about technology,
Blecknology, technological evolution with no apparent purpose other than to evolve technology, any thought of actual utility left behind. Imagine how grateful I feel for these opportunities to become even more dissociative.

I next concluded my WhatNext Series just about where I began it three months before with
BegendingAgain. There's never any Done-d-ing like beginning all over again again.

I then began the projected long, slow trudge of my anticipated HeadingHomeward Series by
Heading, a compass reading, not a destination.

My most popular posting this week, one that really seemed to hit close to home for many, looked at how our revered treasures somehow turn into
Sh!t over time. And here I suspected that it was only mine … :-)

I next kind of pre-grieved for the sacred
Routine HeadingHomeward will disrupt, an identity crisis looming within the relocating.

I ended my writing week with
GraveMisgivings, a Paean, I guess, to my adopted way of living, anticipating that HeadingHomeward might probably disrupt even this. I spent an awful lot of time anticipating this week.

This writing week ends on Christmas Morning, a point tailor-made for disrupting any writing routine. I still have deliveries to make before breakfast and the usual Friday PureSchmaltz Zoom Chat before lunch, all part of the isolated celebrating this year brings. I am cheered by your presence here, knowing your time might be spent opening presents or celebrating. I feel gratified that you deigned to stop by and open this present. Make no mistake, I intended to share this one with you. Thanks for stopping by on this snowy morning. Merry Christmas!

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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