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Instruments Of Power by Thomas Hart Benton, 1930-31, from his America Today Murals

" … while this fresh-faced image in this brand new mirror wonderingly gazed back at me."

Some say that biological evolution works only over large scales of time, but I do not believe this assertion, for my own biome seems to have been in continual transition since the day I was born. I might have been evolving daily, scaling this or that feature, never once static. I look for my reflection in my morning shaving mirror and often stare startled into that image peering back, for I cannot remember before seeing anyone precisely like that imposter staring back at me. The hair's at a different angle. The eyes slightly sunken. The nose somehow wrong. Sure, I always find at least a passing resemblance, but I'm increasingly moved to wonder why I even try to find myself there, or more precisely, why I try to find any self I might immediately recognize. I might better serve my self-esteem should I inquire rather than peer into mirrors, trying to see who I might be NowHere, rather than attempting to catch glimpses of whom I should already understand was already a past self. No man shaves the same face twice.

My old reliables either betrayed my faith in them or were never all that reliable in the first place.
I'm the one who so reliably imprinted on a face in time that I believed it was mine, like a possession, rather than a passing slip of time possessing me. I might have been a sort of canvas upon which a moment presented itself, and pleasing me, became me in my mind. I set my expectations crookedly, anticipating eventual mastery only to learn that I'm still learning, never even master of my face, let alone my fate. My life increasingly seems an extended inquiry not intending to accumulate knowledge, for today's conclusions seem to reliably become tomorrow's delusions, leading me to conclude that presence itself is an illusion. My experiences are irrevocable and also continually evolving, if only in underlying meaning. What I believed yesterday came up for renegotiation overnight, my fresh conclusions always evolving. I engage in Irrevocableution, an irrevocable kind of continuous evolution, eternally unfinished until entropy finally has her way.

Who am I?, the understanding of which I once considered the very foundation of my existence, seems an irrelevant question in the NowHere. I better understand who I was than who I am, and perhaps best comprehend who I might become. I'm not one thing, a single identity, but more like a choir singing to myself, with each range represented, sometimes producing remarkable harmony and others, deeply discouraging dissonance. I struggle to translate the score before me and often opt to repeat a single simple ditty as my ear worm theme song, allowing that music to most deeply influence me. I am an extended enquiry featuring few conclusions. When someone asks me who I am, after a moment feeling temporarily stunned by the question, I hesitantly respond by saying my name, just as if that reply resolved the question. My name, properly interpreted, seems a plural verb, ambiguous and in continual motion.

Sunlight streamed in early this morning, brilliant and very bright. Last night left quickly, seemingly embarrassed at its brief tenure. This day promises much, early summer offering adventure. I felt like a kid on his first trip to Disneyland, filled with the innocent enthusiasm of someone who's not yet seen through the illusion. The world seemed all distant castles and unlikely waterfalls with infinite promise. I wondered, and completely sincerely, who I might come to be inside, for I could only imagine ignorantly. I watched myself choose, whether I would use my naive notions of who I might become as the template for who I simply had to become or whether I could hold the overwhelming mystery and wait and see what me I'd find in there. I could experience a wholly unrecognizable self, an emerging identity, or reinforce my previous conclusions. I could become anything or simply live up to my naive expectations. The NowHere wrestled with both my past and my future identities while this fresh-faced image in this brand new mirror wonderingly gazed back at me.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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