Rendered Fat Content


Jean Metzinger: At the Cycle-Race Track (Au Vélodrome) (1912)

"I'd just stopped paying such close attention to what I wasn't doing."

I'm Gettin' over the idea that I need to be Gettin' over ideas. I might instead get under, around, or through, or, alternatively, I might simply let a condition be. The idea that I might one day get back to normal might perhaps prove the most poisonous possible aspiration. I seem to too easily imagine that I once experienced conditions I had never actually experienced, my old, fondly remembered, largely fictional Old Normal. Memory's a notoriously unreliable mentor. I try to take things as they come and often fail, falling into one of apparently many cognitive traps. Just day before yesterday, I complained here of feeling
StovedUp, as if that were a treatable condition rather than a statement of simple fact. I've felt StovedUp before and I most probably will feel StovedUp again. I might even find that I'm more frequently feeling StovedUp these days and pine after the time when StovedUp had not become my new normal. I only imagined it as a permanent condition, but, then again, nothing's permanent except perhaps that sense of permanence that sometimes visits.

I toughed out my StovedUp-edness. I gritted my teeth and re-engaged and, after a hyper-aware hour or two, noticed my awareness of my discomfort waning. By the time I'd finished mowing the lawn, I felt astonished that those Charlie Horses in my lower back had apparently chosen to move on to greener pastures for that moment. My legs felt great. My head had cleared. I think that I might have managed to move through that state I'd mistaken for perhaps permanent, forgetting for a moment that nothing here's permanent except perhaps that sense of permanence that sometimes visits then moves on. I had almost convinced myself that I needed to get over feeling StovedUp as a precondition for getting over feeling StovedUp when I almost accidentally stumbled onto a path around that stuck Stoved-Up-edness. Is this not how it always works?

My grade school music teacher instilled in me a life-long love of music and distraction. She seemed ancient to me then. She was a little notorious for taking chunks out of the telephone pole in the teacher's parking lot with her Valiant. She'd lecture us on proper comportment, exhorting us to just let notes fly out of our mouths. She'd demonstrate, really belting, then explain that she'd been coughing up green stuff earlier that morning and could still sing. She accepted no excuses and took no prisoners. We'd soon be Rolling Along quite Merrily, tapping fingers on the score, keeping time and, astonishingly, making genuinely joyful noises. I might have learned under her tutelage how to distract myself into performance, a skill I still employ almost daily, one of the essential skills of living if one expects to get by without necessarily Gettin' over anything.

As I perform my Reconning, my reconnaissance going forward, I could probably do worse than remember my earliest music lessons. I often hear a song in my heart and that score often numbs me to some aspects of my then present context. I can be remarkably oblivious, and I'm reminded that oblivious can sometimes prove to be the very finest kind of mindfulness. To be so focused upon some concept or idea that we miss what's right before us seems a benevolent blessing. To be stuck in my body sometimes seems the cruelest punishment. Much of what I aspire to produce only ever seems to come when I'm experiencing some kind of unconsciousness, a state I do not notice I've entered until later, after I've accomplished something. Then I might rightly wonder how I managed to pull off that miracle, modest though it might seem, a new essay or a poem, and I can never answer that question. I might have, I suppose, just gotten over something then, but I suspect that I've just awakened from a transcendent experience of having somehow gotten over the idea that I had to get over something to succeed, probably by the time-tested means of strategic distraction. Perhaps, I'd just stopped paying such close attention to what I wasn't doing and gotten on or away with something.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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