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Jacques Callot: Camping Place of the Gypsies:
The Preparation of the Feast

(Artist's working dates 1612–1635)

"I figure I can finish FinalPrep in the final fifteen minutes before I take the stage."

The National Weather Service predicted snow by early evening and the sky had already started spitting fine ice by the time I returned from an errand across town. I wanted to finish cleaning up the latest leaf fall before this storm hit, since the weather service also predicted a week of very cold temperatures with intermittent snowfall providing no later opportunity to complete the last of the Autumn chores before an early Winter settled in. I faced the choice of working through the icy rain or just accepting that I would fall short of my aspirations this season. I slipped into my overalls and stepped out into the weather. As usual, once imbedded within it, the drizzle seemed less ominous. I focused upon quickly removing those leaves and soon found myself finished. Then came the piddling around time.

The Muse swears that she can complete a month of unfinished business in the final few hours before she leaves on an extended trip.
Something about FinalPrep stretches the envelope. I experienced this phenomenon that afternoon before the storm, too. I quickly ran through the leaf removal portion of the effort, and felt energized by the work. I was not ready to quit after putting away the lawnmower and the other tools I'd used. I set to fiddling, reorganizing the garage contents, sitting in there just staring out onto the driveway, watching the cats playing. I'd stand and do something every now and then, but felt completely content without engaging. I eventually flipped the compost heap out behind the garage, and generally tidied up the area. I resolved a hot half dozen niggling chores I'd long deferred. It seemed as if I might never get to them if I didn't resolve them that very afternoon. I held infinite time.

I felt a calming sense of doom, as if that afternoon was a now or never time. I swear that I could accomplished anything I set what remained of my mind to completing. Anyone who's managed to live to adulthood understands that time isn't regular or linear. It moves in unpredictable fits and starts, presenting distinctly different contexts depending upon something mostly unpredictable. We understand, though, about this FinalPrep Effect, this sense that time approaches infinity whenever we approach a deadline. It stretches all out of usual proportion then. The act just before the final one seems to go on forever. We rely upon this property of time, for it thoroughly justifies our usually procrastinating lifestyles. I can always rationalize deferring until tomorrow until just before a snowstorm hits, until just before almost any deadline shows. For those final few hours, I master what little time I sense remaining.

The Ancient Greeks understood that if considered from within this elongating context, an arrow released could never reach its target. It could easily traverse half the distance before just as easily traversing half the remaining space, then continue halving distances until approaching infinity, which it could never span, but only because nothing can. I'm more than familiar with this phenomenon, but I too easily forget that I possess this curious superpower. If properly focused, I swear that I could catch up during the final few seconds before any deadline arrived. I'm not always so well focused as I feel after The National Weather Service predicts a week of Winter weather. I later stepped back inside, current with every outside chore. I'd even ferried more firewood up onto the porch so that I wouldn't have to trudge through snow for fuel. I've been picking away at preparing for my mythical future SetList house concert performance, but worst case, I figure I can finish FinalPrep in the final fifteen minutes before I take the stage.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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