Rendered Fat Content


Jacob Hoolaart, after Adriaen Brouwer:
Man met een geldzak [Man Holding Moneybag] (1723-89)

"I am not at this moment feeling all that successful."

I feel as though I have been dancing around my subject with these first Success Stories. This might be a reasonable if inconvenient time to confess a misgiving I've carried with me since I started writing this series. I admitted then, in my introduction, that I didn't feel as though I knew very much about Success, given that it had been a rare presence in my life. I speak even now of success as if it were a thing, ascribing the infamous 'it' to it, as if it was ever an 'it.' The thing about 'its' is that they are, by international agreement or something, supposed to at least vaguely refer to some person, place, or thing, an entity. Success seems awfully disembodied to qualify for 'itness,' and fitness for itness might matter. Of what do I speak when I attempt to speak of Success?

As near as my beleaguered brain can ascertain, Success might at best (or worst) qualify as a feeling.
Feelings flunk the thingness test. They might manifest within a body without ever taking possession of a body themselves. They seem notoriously transitory. They come and go without permission. We attempt to herd them into submission, often failing, flailing impotently at them. We willingly numb ourselves to escape their influence, though numb becomes a feeling, too, even though it represents feeling's absence. We seek some of them and shriek when encountering others. Feelings seem mercurial, and notoriously so. They might fill background awareness or overfill the foreground, rendering the most powerful of us into weaklings, cowering. Feelings seem awfully fleeting. Just about the time one figures that they've figured one, it comes undone and flees. Or, it digs in deeper to produce a more intense sensation.

My teacher Jerry Weinberg seemed to revel in pointing out curiosities in the way we employ language to describe feelings. I might mention to him that I felt late for an upcoming appointment and he would point out that 'late' might not actually qualify as a feeling. He'd ask what I was feeling instead. It turns out that due to a curiosity in human wiring, we can ascribe almost anything to feelings, even experiences that clearly do not qualify as a feeling, like late. A brief if frustrating little conversation later, I might have gotten closer to my feelings, but as a result, I
felt even later than they had been feeling for my upcoming meeting. How do we talk about this non-stuff? Nonsense? Getting in touch with feelings can more than inconvence, but it definitely inconveniences.

If Success manifests as feelings, which feelings best represent its presence? This seems a trick question because feelings can represent many experiences. More than one experience elicits feelings of joy, for instance, so it's probably a fool's mission to attempt to follow a feeling to find its source. The best one might accomplish might be rough association. I know I usually feel happy when I'm around you, though it would be a leap to declare that only your presence elicits happiness in me. Happiness might well have ten thousand or even more sources, each producing roughly the same suite of feelings. Success probably works like this, too. Rather than definitively defining, I manage with little more, at best, a rough association between the feelings I ascribe to success and any actual discernible events. To become 'successful' might mean that one's often feeling those sensations he's ascribed to being elicited by success.

Huff. Puff. This has been a hard uphill climb. If I cannot quite agree with myself on the primary term I'm using, of what use might my commentary ever become? What I know from my own experience stands as scarce evidence:

1- I rarely "feel" successful.

2- I suspect that others "feel" successful more often than do I.

3- I acknowledge that I have struggled to "be" or "become" successful. This might be the natural result of pursuing a feeling, which never formally becomes but manifests short of physical being.

4- Maybe I need to get better in touch with my feelings about this feeling I call Success. Feelings about feelings might be where the potential for change resides.

5- I sincerely apologize for starting this series before cleanly sorting out these feelings. Now I feel embarrassed. (Is embarrassed a feeling or a description standing in for a sensation? I suspect the later.)

This enquiry will continue, somehow. Please bear with me. I am not at this moment feeling all that successful. …

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver