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Unknown Artist from Mexico, Guerrero, Olmec: Kneeling Figure (c. 1200-600 BC)

"Humility might humiliate …"

That part of planning asking the planner to list vulnerabilities always bugged me. Even I knew that the known vulnerabilities posed little threat, if only because one tends to cringe in sympathetic anticipation whenever anything threatens a known vulnerability. The real vulnerabilities prove to be unlistable. It's their very nature. I, for instance, when starting to repaint The Villa's exterior, would never have thought to identify my knees as anything like a vulnerability. Thanks to a persistent insistence to avoid jogging, skiing, and spinning, my knees have never bothered me. I am not now nor do I ever expect to be enqueued for knee replacement surgery, but six weeks into the effort, D'sKnees have become an unanticipated issue.

Perhaps it was those days spent grubbing out the swamp elm roots behind the garage that first prompted the pain.
I had been kneeling on rocky, uneven ground, oblivious as only anyone engaged in annoying work can become. Success came slowly, begrudgingly, which encouraged me to dig in ever harder. Further, those roots and I shared some sorry history. They had defeated me before and I'd be damned if I would allow them to defeat me again this time. It turned out that I might have actually been actively damning myself by the way I was engaging. One must always avoid engaging with a vengeance lest the effort become self-defeating. Such work seems most promisingly engaged in with humility and tenacity, not as competition. Competing with inanimate objects seems a dandy method to achieve self-defeat since the inanimate cannot actively defend itself. Nor can it even outsmart a foe. No, when grubbing roots, persistence counts more than vengeance ever could.

I succeeded against those roots but at some emerging cost. I'd apparently been kneeling on cobbles. My knees felt bruised. As these things tend to go, I immediately found myself engaging in other activities demanding my penitence. I kneeled before the broad front door, rolling up carpets. I kneeled before a tub of paint, stirring its contents. I kneeled atop the scaffolding, slowly painting siding boards. It seemed in the days following my kneeling tussle with those swamp elm roots, every damned thing I did required me to assume the position, to humble myself before something, to dip down on at least one knee.

I'm right kneed. I'd never though to consider that I might possess a dominant knee like I own a dominant hand and eye. Right-handed, I naturally crouch down right knee first, so that's the one that takes the brunt of every effort. It's the one that feels bruised, the one that's come to ache like the dickens when I'm trying to fall asleep. It's the one that causes me to wince if I do anything to offend it. I've taken to carrying around my kneeling pad, the one I've used for years when gardening. It's a challenge to drag it with me up on the scaffolding, but I've been trying, though, true to something innately stupid within me, when I notice that I've forgotten it, I do not usually scramble back down the scaffolding to fetch it, but decide to try to get along without it this one time. That one time, once I awaken from the execution trance common to house painting, wounds my knee again and leaves me limping. I can be altogether too tough for my own good sometimes.

My greatest vulnerability might always be my tendency to ignore my greatest vulnerability, whatever it turns out to be. I can almost always see where trouble's brewing but then too often choose to ignore the cues I'm seeing. I most often focus upon whatever I'm doing as if engaging would nullify the threat. I feel my tender knee yet still continue kneeling. I'm seeing, and not for the first time ever, that this kneeling could undermine my whole intention of repainting The Villa. If I cannot somehow find ways to protect that tender knee, I might actually render myself unable to finish my work. Call it willful premature aging. I need to grow up a little and maybe take it even slower than I've been working and adopt some sense of self-preservation over simply engaging in the work. The work will remain regardless of the vengeance I employ. The Villa might need to be humbly repainted, anyway. I've bought knee pads, though they will most certainly make me look even geekier as I engage. Humility might humiliate but might also serve to preserve my ability to finish my work.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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