Rendered Fat Content


Thomas Hart Benton: Outreaching Hands from America Today mural (1930–31)

" … to seek dignity rather than desire."

An Exile'sReturn feels no less traumatic than his exit, for both events demand skills not previously in evidence in our hero's experience, however vast. He left only because he could not possibly stay, hardly a proper preparation for anything following. He returned because he'd finally earned passage, but after such a long absence that he would not be returning to from whence he once departed, but into a rather darkening sunrise. In most ways, an Exile'sReturn turns into yet another exile, an extension of the discontinuity begun when he first fled into exile, unaware that he would never, could never, return. It would be, he comes to understand, off-handed adaptation from there on. It would be a great blessing that he returned just as unaware as he departed. Understanding, in probably this world's greatest blessing, always comes later, after confusion and well before wisdom. An Exile'sReturn proves revealing.

After eons of ceding one's heart's desire, one might recognize that hearts know little.
They desire like an infant might and have no real business driving. It's no great tragedy should this indifferent world deny any heart's desire, for it offers no real shortage of alternative pursuits, many perfectly passable. It might even be that the stumbled upon obsession provides better mileage and a superior ride, though one could never discover this had not their heart been at least almost broken open and a cruel world had denied it something it had deemed essential, a life's work, a true love, just desserts. These separations hurt in ways that turning up the television can't cure. They haunt so thoroughly that an exile, once expelled from whatever garden from which he once hailed, might justifiably conclude that he's through, that his expulsion had irrevocably broken him. Other chapters follow.

Other societies in other times never opined that a man or any person could be in control of something as ephemeral as their own destiny. No, dukes and kings, priests and fates each held superiors claim upon the paths that any individual's life might take. One lived without such boundaries or became an outlaw and faced a short and brutish existence probably ending with violence. Such was self-determination then, and even slaves adopted mindsets which might render them at peace with their fates. Ancient Roman slaves considered themselves professionals and acknowledged the limits of their influence, recognizing that their good work would most likely be the only evidence they ever existed, so they built aqueducts and highways still used today, though they were in fact always exiles from their druthers. What might any exile make of this?

I reacted to being exiled by refusing to read maps of our new location. I decided that I wanted to find myself there by first getting good and lost, and hopefully multiple times. I'd head out in some direction and walk. I'd hop a bus without knowing precisely where it was going then challenge myself to somehow find my way back to that apartment into which we'd been relocated. Same with the Metro. I slowly built a map of my new territory by serially losing myself there and by relying upon chance and synchronicity to get me found again. I over time created an internal map of that territory which proved perfectly satisfactory, though it excluded many prominent features of the terrain, like the Beltway, which I almost never used and figured we were both better off not really knowing very much about. I discovered and traveled almost exclusively via secret passages, ways only exiles ever discover and grow to rely upon. The locals were confused and amazed at my discoveries.

An Exile'sReturn seems like an extension of his exile and his return seems essentially notional. The map the returned exile references might have been current in his youth and little represents whatever he finds before him upon return. The returned exile lives with more than one of his feet in the past. He sees the ghosts of long-closed businesses still inhabiting corners long before taken over by indecipherables. He can't quite figure what goes on in there and never bothers to go inside and introduce himself, and not only because he no longer believes that he knows himself or his desires. He learned after expulsion from his garden that he could have anything but what he truly wanted, so he learned to live by other means, to seek dignity rather than desire. To live by his wits instead.


Friday again already? And still Reconning, still figuring which direction he's headed? I some mornings feel as though I'm walking in circles and, quite frankly, I find satisfaction in this discovery. I might not be going anywhere now other than around the block. Perhaps I've traded journeys and adventures for walks. Who's to say they're better or worse? Pursuit sometimes seems so over-wrought. It sometimes seems to demean the present, trading a reliable cow for a pocketful of imaginary magic beans and hopefulness. An exile might come to live on hope alone, sustaining himself with stories every bit as imaginal and magic as any pocketful of beans but much less reliable than any odd old milk cow. He returns to find his pocket full of imaginary magic cow shit. Fertilizer, he exclaims! Garden renewer! I knew that Exile would one day handsomely payoff!

I began my writing week in trouble, the most reliable means for anyone interested in
AttractingAngels. "I long ago lost count of the number of just this sort of angels who've bailed me out over my life."

I reflected on whatever it is inside of me that denies
Permissions and thereby keeps me human, my most popular posting this period. "Freedom never was the ability to do whatever one chooses, uninfluenced by that almost still, remarkably small voice inside each of us."

I was not complaining when I suggested that this April sure seems to have many
SmallWinters imbedded within it. "Within everything lies at least a spot of something else. Nothing's so pure as to even appear to be exclusively one thing and that thing only. It should be no different for spring or for any season, I suspect."

I described a world as this one might actually be, where nobody can ever step into the same river twice, in
Zeno'sReality. "Those of us who sometimes struggle to fit in, to find premises for unlocking great mysteries, find ourselves attracted to Zeno'sReality, for he seemed to understand that much never really was what it seemed. It's different."

I praised my personal way of engaging in
Hesitance. "I hasten so slowly that I might seem like statuary."

I also praised hard work as sometimes really therapeutic in
AtHardLabor. " … an ounce of actual HardLabor might impart more than a pound of cure."

I ended my writing week by writing about Our Damned Pandemic, and how my world looks from the perspective of the beginning of the contagion's
ThirdYear. "My domain extends clear out to the back fence and the considerable view shed beyond the fences both front and back."

This was a writing week best characterized by angels visiting. I came to more deeply appreciate my inhibitions and their Permissions as well as the SmallWinters imbedded within even the most reassuring Springs. I reminded myself that my stories might not map well to my realities when I explain how I cross some same river twice, for instance, and that for he, even me, hesitating might not mean permanently lost. I came to understand the value of sometimes engaging At Hard Labor, and ended up facing the beginning of a third year sequestered, pounding on the separating window, aching to be out there again. Thank you for following along with my Reconning. I feel as though I'm finally getting somewhere, even if it's only here.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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