Fizzle


"Soaring lasts longer than any crash."

Some plans gang agley, they go wrong. It's not really the plan that goes wrong, though, but the expectation of satisfaction the plan set up. The plan was fine, but the expectation proved faulty. The expectation, too, was just fine until it wasn't, perhaps even motivating hopeful pursuit, which is the very best kind, so the expectation wasn't really wrong either, not as long as it remained an expectation. At some hand-off point, the perfectly fine expectation fizzled out, as all expectations must eventually do. Perhaps it was whatever took over the expectation space's fault. I believe that we humans might be hardwired to expect good things to happen. Consistently expecting the worst gets classified as a mental disorder while hopefulness is seen as the cure. In that moment when hopefulness turns into cold despair, anyone might reasonably begin misattributing the cause back to the plan or the expectation, both of which were fine until encountering some Fizzle.

These discouragements sometimes prove fatal, but not usually.
Anyone left behind to morn their losses wasn't actually killed by the misconception. Most do feel wounded, though, and sometimes deeply wounded. Plan 'agley' might account for the majority of self-esteem downgrades experienced in the world. The self-recriminations might start even when nobody's broken your sword in half during a shaming ceremony. Most of us can more than compensate for the absence of some scowling general and perhaps mete out greater punishment to ourselves than even an imaginative general staff could ever devise. The latest Fizzle might encourage an otherwise capable contributor to reconsider his recent sense of competence and accept that he's not only not competent, but that he was earlier deluded as to his true capability. He was, after all, an author of the now discredited plan. He even encouraged others to follow his lead, buoyed as he was by his own, plan-induced hopeful optimism, but the Fizzle changed all that.

Only the future understands how anything turns out. Until then, we must somehow thrive on speculation, the rightness or wrongness of which must necessarily remain in question. We take chances believing that the dice might be loaded to our advantage even when we know they probably aren't. The science of prediction seems a practice of projection and projection seems heavily influenced by expectation, that element we mourn when we encounter a plan's gang agley. Of course we try to take care, but we take care with obstructed forward (and backward) vision. These conditions explain more than they ever excuse. We carry insurance to compensate us for our unforeseen losses, whether they were foreseeable or not, not to prevent experiencing any loss. Life insurance doesn't prolong life.

I feel freshly shocked all over again every time one of my plans gang agley, though I stand here as a survivor of more agley than so-called success. Sometimes the agley-inspired fall back plan better satisfies my refreshed expectations, but not always. Some endeavors simply and ultimately convincingly, do not work, but only as past tense didn't works. While they worked, while they buoyed by optimism and fueled my positive self-regard, they worked extremely well. I can declare that I've spent more time enlivened by plans that ultimately didn't work than I've ever spent grieving over ones that failed to satisfy my expectations, so I suspect that grief lives a shorter life than positive expectations ever do. We notice when grief comes but not when it departs. We feel when expectations soar, but feel it more then they crash. Soaring lasts longer than any crumble. I dog-paddle back to the edge of the pool, coughing chlorine, shocked at how such placid water could suddenly turn so vicious. I won't feel very much like swimming again that afternoon, but tomorrow morning I'll be back. One Fizzle won't redefine me.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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