Rendered Fat Content


Camille Pissarro:
Woman Emptying a Wheelbarrow (1880)

"The hunter dreams of tomorrow's hunt …"

I had been steadily canvassing through a difficult precinct—streets with gravel verges instead of sidewalks, long distances between porches—and settling into the by-then familiar sweaty collar and yoke when The Muse called. She'd finished her video call and was ready to meet up with me to finish canvassing this latest Turf. I disclosed my location and predicted where I'd be fifteen minutes later before continuing to drop campaign literature on those increasingly rural porches. She arrived on time and parked in a turnout so we could confer. As usual, the software misbehaved, complicating our synching up. I proposed that she drive around to those places I'd passed up because the houses were too far from the main road, and she couldn't seem to find which houses I referred to. In frustration, I pleaded with her to at least deliver a sign to one homeowner who'd requested one. She needed literature I couldn't spare, so I passed the key to the other car where I'd left my excess. She drove away in some frustration, and I continued dropping fliers.

A mile later, she showed up again, explaining that her mailing had hit mailboxes that morning, so that canvassing might be too much information that day.
Better, she explained, to wait a few days and then focus on informing those voters who still needed to turn in their ballots in a final Get Out The Vote push. There would be fewer doors to access then, and our efforts would be better focused. I objected, still dedicated to completing my objective, though my feet were aching and I needed a restroom. I resisted for a few impassioned minutes before finally conceding that my work had turned moot.

She dropped me off at the other car, and I headed homeward, detouring on the way to finally get an oil change and grab a burger, which I found I could barely swallow. I had known we were approaching the end of the campaign's effective canvassing period, which might explain why I had become increasingly dedicated to continuing it. I had set another imaginary goal, that I would trudge a hundred miles before the end of it, but time and fortune had conspired against my achieving this end. I had clocked over seventy miles by then, but abandoning my larger goal left me feeling like a has been, like a failure. Even though the cessation seemed to make perfect sense, it left me feeling depressed.

It had been months since I hadn't been hassled with campaign details. The Muse had been much more dedicated, and I often fell short of my objectives, but I had maintained dedication after a fashion. I'd even achieved some modest ends, but such achievements would effectively end once the campaign was over, and the campaign was inexorably coming to an end. Ballots had been sent. A day later, The Muse went out to do a little more canvassing, and the four people who were home and watching as she dropped literature told her that they'd already voted and that each had voted for her. The mootness of her effort became clearer.

I know of no cure for the hollowness of EmptyAir. The goal that so successfully fueled forward momentum, even when I could have sworn I'd rather not move forward, would after that be missing. The long-anticipated time of rest was finally upon us, and all I could imagine was more campaigning. I suddenly felt even more motivated to continue what had so recently seemed like a pain-in-the-ass chore. I wanted more! I would have to settle for less.

Acknowledging that this election is finally out of our hands feels humbling. Two more weeks remain until vote counting, with little left for us to do but wait. We can anticipate a few skirmishes remaining, but each day, fewer and fewer ballots will be unsubmitted, and ever fewer voters will still be influenceable. We already cast that die.

Whatever might fill this EmptyAir remains a puzzle. I have plenty I might divert my attention to, but little that seems very attractive. The Muse wisely purchased two tickets to New York City, where we will lose ourselves for a few days following election day, win or lose. Win or lose, we've already won plenty. The price of any grand obsession comes with the concession that the pursuit's over. Win or lose, a hollowness settles in. We live to pursue, like hunter/gatherers. Catching the game was only a premise permitting us to chase. The hunter dreams of tomorrow's hunt, not tonight's supper.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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