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Heraclitus would have smugly said, "I told you so."

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus was a busy man. He rarely simply sat around philosophizing, but was actively employed failing to remain similar enough long enough to step into the same river twice. He was constantly changing. He later reported that even the same old thing, perceived from some perspective as seemingly insignificant as a slightly different angle, would appear different. He might have been the first proponent of the notion that life flows rather than simply sitting there being. He noted that the world and all its inhabitants and the universe surrounding it and us exist not as beings, but as becomings. He is remembered as the weeping philosopher, one prone to overwhelming bouts of melancholia, as perhaps befits anyone endlessly pursuing without ever actually achieving. His travels never really started and could not be completed, but continued asymptoticly, an exhausting proposition. His spirit probably continues his necessarily endless pursuits.

I'm attracted to Heraclitus' perspective, though his lack of payoff might feel disappointing for anyone aiming to accomplish something conclusive from their efforts.
His notion of endlessly becoming well-describes what passes for my creative process: plenty of producing yielding no discernible product. The Muse sniffs around later and reports that there seems to be a pony in there somewhere. To my senses, nothing's ever really finished.

I suspect that Heraclitus found no home in this world, that he continually trolled, homing toward without ever actually settling down, that state being incompatible with his philosophy and all. It might be that we each inhabit incomplete constructions with no hope of ever finishing our efforts. I flit in and out of my home, sometimes seeming to flee from its confines, finding them more imprisoning than comforting. Other times, I'm working hard to arrive back there. After some long absence, I run back homeward, HomeBound as if it might become my final resting place. Other times, The Muse needs the car for a week of downtown meetings and I'm HomeBound in the opposite sense, seemingly imprisoned there where I so recently imagined sweet repose resided.

Even a man appreciative of Heraclitus could get antsy when losing his usual access to the world. Options narrow. I feel stuck. I could walk that mile and a half along the unimproved shoulders of that two lane into the village, uphill both ways, or just brew a bowl of coffee for myself here. I could hike down the eight miles of equally unimproved road shoulder to get to a grocery store, but I raid our larder instead. Whatever I might need to fetch out there will remain that day securely out of reach. I must make do. I admit to often drumming up some supposed need as an excuse to simply get out and away for a while, to drive with the windows down so the wind can muss my hair. I find the sort of comfort and reassurance in this distraction that no homebound experience equals. When I'm Homebound, though, small chores can seem like overwhelming obligations sucking vitality out of my system rather than injecting energizing hopefulness or simple satisfaction. I can get grumbly.

I remember when the kids were small and woke up too ill to attend daycare or school and it would be my turn to stay home with them for the day. I might have reveled in the opportunity, but found it more often exhausting. I could, it seemed, attend more closely to my own children in our own home in thin slivers of focus rather than with a wide-open lens. I'd quickly find myself dragging myself through the small obligations and larger opportunities present then. Washing, drying, and folding a load of diapers (yes, we used reusable ones then) seemed an overwhelming chore. Even reading another story eventually became boring, with dad losing the battle to avoid an unwanted nap more easily than either child ever did, leaving the sick kid watching dad snore.

Simply put, Homebound can induce the most intense form of boredom I've ever known. Even now, decades later and home alone, HomeBound can produce that old familiar ennui. Some days, just managing to place the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher utterly exhausts my ambition. Propelled by a quick drive out to the library or the supermarket, I imagine myself returning home refreshed. Shuttered into the same place, no amount of rest could ever refresh me. Heraclitus would have smugly said, "I told you so."

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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