Rendered Fat Content


Paul Gauguin: Soyez amoureuses, vous serez heureuses
[Love, and You Will Be Happy]
, (1899)

"I will not be telling anyone what I didn't intend to tell them again."

By long tradition, the final installment of any story series should at least attempt to summarize, to digest whatever it might have attempted to impart in its prior pieces, to, in the crude vernacular of the professional trainer, "tell them what you told them." There almost always came a time, in my career as a teacher of professional people, when the organizer would start speaking of Training The Trainer. This point signified the impending end of my relationship with that organization and the doom of our inevitably short-lived initiative. Corporations seem to need to frequently change their imperatives, as if to keep fresh whatever impossible they pursue, and they might well be wise to insist upon such shifts, because when dealing with Impossibles, freshness might remain the most important consideration. While it might well be absolutely true that most corporate imperatives represent some sort of impossible intention, one cannot continue perpetually holding the unrequited. It must be "achieved" or abandoned, left without fanfare in favor of some fresh and more enlivening initiative, also inevitably another impossible, eventually facing the same fate.

The Train The Trainer speech gave notice that the client intended to transform their present impossible into standard curriculum, a process which dumbs down its content.
Instead of insight, which reliably turns impossibles into at least potential, they would seek knowledge, which pre-packages acceptable responses, sealing the Impossibles back into unachievables again. This transition reliably leads to later frustration as whatever the training once produced fails to manifest after their in-house trainer takes over. If they're watching—and they don't always, often just institutionalizing their training into never-again questioned initiatives given perpetual funding—they might notice that they've successfully managed to produce a workshop that participants grow to feeling sentenced to attend.

It's The Wheel Of Training, well known even back in ancient Sumerian times, around and around it goes, each stage hopeful. There's really nothing like a fresh impossible to lend purpose and vigor to the human experience. Assigned a possible, we quickly lose interest. When we're capable of satisfying an expectation, we seem more capable of discovering mostly boredom in the pursuit of satisfying it. We prefer our aspirations to lie over the horizon, to carry some mystery about them, to challenge a few of our more basic presumptions, for these form the basis of transformation. We must, it seems, end up being somebody different from whatever we were when we started the effort by the time we find ourselves finished. The recipe should have properly seemed mysterious and our recent passage should have failed to yield definitive understanding of it. There should never be a story to tell anybody what was just told to them, for there should have been nobody listening for them to understand what they might have heard and also nobody but them there to hear whatever that teacher might have said. There never was any meta message floating around unreceived, just the ones received or missed. They must suffice.

I leave these SetTheory Stories feeling as though I more than satisfied another in a now long line of Impossibles. If age imparts anything, it might pass on the understanding that Impossibles do, in fact, routinely happen, that they're probably the most common of all human experiences. Societies and civilizations dedicated themselves to denying this obvious fact by focusing attention upon the more mundane undertakings, by essentially Training The Trainers and instructing them to tell people what they just told them again and then again, ad infinitum. Repeated so, our purpose might come to seem as though it's intended to listen and, worse case, even believe whatever's said. Whatever's said can't help but prove irrelevant when compared with whatever remains to be discovered, though engaging with that requires something different than a compliant ear.

It seems to me that anybody insistently telling me what they already told me displays a regrettable desperation, as if they'd come to feel as though they could only thrive if others abided by what they'd told them. I was never trying to teach my students anything but what they felt moved to notice about themselves. I admit to encouraging them to question my authority. Who would I have to be to believe that I could tell them anything, that my experience, my insight, might somehow properly belong to them, too? Phooey! I was engaged in Impossibles and I came to understand that I would never actually achieve any of them. I would come to achieve other things, most of which could never have been properly categorized as things, anyway. I gained insights, the fruit of pursuing Impossibles. Why I showed up each day attempting to write my fool head off. Why I invented my own version of SetTheory. Why I decided to perform a HouseConcert. Because they represented Impossibles and I needed their aspirations to live. I did not intend to tell anyone anything, so I will not be telling anyone what I didn't intend to tell them again. Thanks for tuning in.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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