Rendered Fat Content


Unknown artist-Central Tibet, mid 15th Century:
Tsong Khapa, Founder of the Geluk Order
(c. 1440–1470)

"May I never learn better."

Each season change brings a fresh disorder into focus as the reigning arrangement suited for the receding season falls out of fashion. What served as orderly then, now only appears disorderly and in need of cleaning up. Which of the infinite choices might suffice for order this time? The possible arrangements hardly approach the infinite, and seem limited by practical factors. I have limited time and perhaps even more limited imagination. The disorder seems powerful, for it disables significant portions of my imagination. I acquire a blindness to certain potentials and affinities for the familiar. I am as a result not so much ordering or even re-ordering, but Entropying: aiding and abetting a continuing disorder, rearranging deck chairs, blithely unaware.

I'm realizing that the disorder I found when I started poking into my songbook probably resulted from an inevitable.
We understand that watched pots rarely boil, but our appreciation of the mischief stuff gets up to when not watched hardly stretches into the middle of the week. Left unattended, software develops bugs due to a poorly understood property of software labeled bit rot. Everything in this universe marches to a similar force, from order toward chaos, from reorder into disarray. Today's order seems destined to mature into tomorrow's mess. We'd be remiss if we missed this inevitable progression. We can only fool ourselves for so long before even we see through the veiling curtain. The ordering I completed yesterday started decomposing overnight. What just seemed right then will have become a little bit questionable under the next dawn's earliest light. We engage in nothing other than the sacred work of Entropying here.

It might be better if I don't believe that I'm making this world better for my ordering. I might manage to soothe my troubled mind for a time by finally finding a place to set that stack of leftover lumber for longer term storage, even though I will have created another corner suited to what I imagined might come in the future, but which pretty certainly will never appear. A year or more from now, those boards will have become clutter and need reordering again into some form presumed to be better for some future. Only the future will judge the goodness of the intention, though it will most likely find it wanting again. I'm just juggling, somewhere understanding that nothing I'm attempting could possibly finally settle anything. Once my SetList settles, it might last until the end of that single performance. The tunes, too, will over time retake their place out someplace in the ether, there to await subsequent resurrections which will also not bestow anything like eternal life. I'm just juggling again.

While buttoning up the garage for winter, I experienced a moment or two of enlightenment. I saw an arrangement that had well supported my efforts since early last Spring. Detritus from each adventure, it seemed, had reduced the place to clutter, but I knew just where everything was hidden—well, almost everything. I ultimately worked within a very narrow strip between workbench and work table, a perhaps three foot wide aisle providing the only access into and through, yet that proved perfectly adequate until the scaffolding came down and the game changed. Suddenly my garage was poorly suited for what I needed, my snow shovels buried back behind fairer weather implements. Leftovers leaned against the newly build wall. A day re-ordering worked wonders, though some of the disorder just changed locations. Now the basement workbench seems totally overwhelmed and further reordering seems in order. Or, more probably, just another stop on the longer road into even greater disorder later.

We know for sure what's coming, yet we persist. We will be rearranging deck chairs until we're sucked into the abyss, and we're generally completely satisfied with this arrangement. Our rearranging carries deep purpose, much, much deeper than any mere arrangement might hold. We rework the old to produce new. Not new forever, no, but new enough for long enough. The eventual chaos will surprise us again, just like it did the last few dozen times. May we never learn better. May I continue to find satisfaction in the most mundane of things, in sweeping floors and reordering garage messes, and in resurrecting song sets into something more presentable for now. May I never learn better.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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