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Herkules nimmt Atlas die Last ab und trägt den Kosmos
[Hercules relieves atlas of the burden and carries the cosmos]
In the style of
Heinrich Aldegrever (1550)
"The time spent completing the task lost forever. The result, eternal …"

I looked at the final batch of baseboards, which I had uncomfortably stacked inside the garage, and I felt overwhelmed. Most of the remaining boards were long: ten, twelve, even fourteen feet, and though I'd already sanded them smooth and glued the ones that had shattered when we removed them, I could not quite face touching them again. Painting would insist that I touch each several more times, shuttling them between a painting station and drying racks, then back for each top coat. Each coat takes an hour or more for the batch and demands great focus, no breaks allowed, especially once I start applying the final TopCoat. These boards have demanded much, not the least of which has been extended detachment. I know, it might seem as though refinishing a board would be all about engagement, but it's the sort of engagement that insists upon a detachment in order to complete. One may not maintain mindfulness and manage their way through the effort. One must go at least semi-conscious if not completely unconscious or he's sunk before he's finished. One can dabble in removing baseboards, and even when mending them, but once the refinishing starts, expect long hours of demanding toil. Sanding each bare might take an hour per, or more, not to mention sweeping off the sanding dust and washing them then stacking them away out of the weather again, then unstacking and sorting and painting, I never felt completely up to any of it. I just did it anyway because I'm the grown up, GroaningUp to it's more like it.

My father taught me not to whine about my assignments but to buckle down and just complete them.
I tend to grown. I suppose that those were my first formal lessons in the fine art of dissociation, a skill never directly taught but more adopted through association. One must be assigned an overwhelming obligation. I learned mowing that massive lawn each week and raking it in season, to stop making up excuses to avoid the effort and to just get to it. It was never quite my preference and I must have agreed to do it in deference to father's role in the family, for he got to say how some things would be, my opinion notwithstanding. I don't have anybody I can direct to do those sorts of jobs for me. I'm the guy in charge and there's no good excuse for refusing responsibility. What does not get done, I own. Groan.

I have been GroaningUp since I was about six and I'm not grown up yet. I'm still sometimes an adolescent at heart, like when I look at that stack of unfinished baseboards and cannot quite face touching them again. I'd rather spend the day playing with friends or doing nothing. Grown ups don't get days where they get to do nothing, for there's always, always, always something vying for their attention, always something desperately needing doing and only one person responsible for seeing it's done. I might longingly look at the impending queue of work and daydream about shirking, but I will engage, I will disengage again. I will step into that garage and take charge. I will agree to lose myself again in yet another never-ending-seeming effort. I will catch myself fully immersed, not flailing.

I pity those who never learned what constitutes self discipline. It's never properly done if anyone's hovering nearby, supervising. It's an internal trick one engages then forgets, a form of trance induction, I guess. It starts with an acceptance which might well forever remain reluctant. The dance before disengagement never matters much. One might natter away an hour or a day settling down onto the nest, but once settled, they're on for the duration, however long that takes. It makes no difference how it begins, optimistic or pessimistic or something in-between. It only ends one way, and that's with whatever started by standing in your way having switched position to appear, receding, in the rear view mirror. The time spent completing the task lost forever. The result, eternal, or just as well as. I'm still just GroaingUp, it seems.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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