Rendered Fat Content


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Workshop:
Young Woman at an Open Half-Door (1645)

“The outcome should properly prove surprising …”

The immediate care doctor reassured me that my latest ache need not be a Harbinger of things to come. It represents a strain that, properly treated, need not become chronic or recurring. I wonder, though, when aches and pains appear, whether they're here permanently, for good, ill, or whatever. In my youth, I imagined that aches and pains amounted to karma, just desserts due to some prior shortcoming or committed sin. Smoke for fifty years and see what happens. But as I've aged, I might have started learning better that much misfortune visits without an antecedent rhyme or reason, without representing anything but fortune. "It just happened" probably explains more than all the root cause analyses in the world. I still wonder which of my maladies might become permanent companions and which might reasonably disappear over time.

A month ago, I could quack like a duck, even flap my right arm wing-like in unison.
I realized that my latest malady disabled my ability to make farting noises by cupping my left hand into my right armpit and flapping my right arm, as I once did so carefreely as a kid. Sure, I felt clever whenever I performed this trick, but I never considered that I might one day lose the necessary range of motion to accomplish it. Then I did. I saw within this experience the old intimations of mortality and looming limitations. There will come a day when I can no longer play my guitar. On that day and those following, I might well experience remorse for all the times I'd chosen not to play my guitar on days I could have.

I do not maintain a bucket list, and I've tried to avoid adopting the guiltier motivating premises. I do not force myself to enjoy this season's strawberries because they might be my last. Such anticipatory consumption severely undermines some critically important something. I must remain naive to that which cannot be known, that I hold something close to a sacred obligation not to attempt to anticipate the unforeseeable. I might reasonably question whether this latest ache might be a Harbinger, but I dare not cross the line between wondering and concluding for sure or acting as if. I continue to move forward, not because I know what's coming but because I couldn't possibly know for certain.

This Publishing Series might one day prove to have been a Harbinger of what was to come, but I will only recognize that it was a Harbinger once the future collapses into some subsequent present. Harbingers make lousy predictors, except in retrospect. Looking forward through them, one might never expect except by preconscious projection. It has often proven to be the case that a series I've written later turned out to have been remarkably prescient, as if it foretold my future. However, none ever succeeded in accurately predicting while still resident in their past. Only later, after that past was past, did it ever appear that my past was party to something of a forecast. The messages were always cast in allegory or metaphor such that I might have interpreted them in innumerable ways until some future present framed the story such that it finally seemed predictive.

A time will come when some future internist will doubtless report that I've contracted something of the more permanent sort. I will have wounded myself and forfeited any future I might have enjoyed making farting noises with my hand cupped into my opposite armpit and flapping my wing. That day will be sad, indeed, for the world will lose another degree of variety it once enjoyed. When my fate finally finds me to render me permanently entropy, I pray that I will graciously accept that fate and not just berate my personal loss. The world will surely be poorer for my eventual absence, but I will have collected my reward, however backhandedly and unanticipated. The outcome should properly prove surprising, lest I waste my semi-precious time focusing on finding Harbingers.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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