Rendered Fat Content


Peter James Studio: Untitled
[man posing with "success" poster] (1952)

"Success only exists in past tenses …"

How long might a Success last? Some seem genuinely eternal, while others quickly evaporate. We celebrate some Successes forever. Christmas, the celebration of light Succeeding over darkness, comes to mind. When the home team wins the pennant, it seems in that minute as if every fan in those stands has experienced something genuinely eternal, yet two short seasons later, those once heroes have become a gang of bums again, spoken of derisively by the delicatessen counterman. Most Success seems alarmingly fleeting, however peaky the initial experience. Repeat the story enough times, and even the hero would really rather forget that journey. After a point, it turns into nostalgia which no amount of retelling could ever reincarnate.

I carry my standard packet of Success stories.
It disturbs me to realize that some have already grown more than fifty years old and that our granddaughters will very likely never be able to relate to even the once greatest of them. They're cold pablum. The older I become, the more I seem to become someone I once was but might no longer be. People seem more interested in what I did yesterday or what I'm currently engaging in than in what I accomplished back when, however lofty that might have appeared then. I might humiliate myself by credentialing myself with my seemingly stone age miracles. Yes, I once routinely walked on water, but now I just tend to stumble on the stairs.

An old friend called yesterday to say that he'd been thinking of me, reporting that my Blind Men book remains just as relevant today as it was when it was published twenty years ago already. Industry, though, still doesn't get it, he reported, a fact either tragic or expected. I told him that industry couldn't afford to get it since it was premised upon not getting that sort of thing. I bear no ill will to anybody or anything about that. Though it was a best-seller, it didn't make me rich or famous. It did become a best-seller, which I over-use as a credential, one of those now far distant Successes that tend to make people's eyes glaze over. I told my friend that The Muse believes that had I become a phenomenon, the notoriety might have killed me. I did get invited to speak before The City of London Economic Club, a rare distinction even after I realized that most attended those meetings as an excuse to drink at lunch. Most Successes have unseemly backstage areas rarely mentioned, even in passing.

It might be that no Success ever emerges until it's already become history. Before it occurs, it's just projection. At the moment it happens, it's not yet worthy of reporting. Each needs some seasoning, it seems, to bring perspective and to properly frame the experience. Success only exists in past tenses, which might seem awfully self-serving when spoken of again. I usually introduce myself as who I was, with what I've accomplished, which seems inescapably yesterday's horse race. We might know who won, but we've lost the surface tension of not quite yet knowing the outcome or of in being recently not yet known. We know by then and might properly already be well on our way to forgetting. We might wonder early mornings if we were ever really there and, consequently, just how here we might be now. I will have been here after I've gone, the sum total, then, of all of my Ex-Successes and then some.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver