Rendered Fat Content


Pierre-Auguste Renoir: The Apple Seller (c. 1890)

" … we're each much more complicated than we appear …"

I find myself feeling extremely grateful for the songs I've written over the years. Rediscovered, they seem to represent a curious form of Journaling, diary entries made without the author intending to catalogue his experiences. Yet, replaying each song seems to reliably resurrect the times and places within which it came into being. I have been revisiting those times and those places as I recover these songs. I realize that my experience has been much more diverse than it formerly seemed as though it had been, for I suppose that nobody ever carries many details of where they've been and who they were before. Our memories summarize, favoring brevity and so-called representative snippets. We might remember an encounter without really recalling how it felt, for instance. My songs seem capable of resurrecting feelings to produce a fully emotional remembering experience.

Earlier in my adulthood, I took to Journaling.
I studied and practiced it long enough that I've now dedicated a couple of bookshelves to journals, essentially personal novels I never really intended to read. I created them to slow myself down, to explicitly reflect as I acted, so that I might more deliberately learn from my experience. Journalizing's very much like meditating, for it produces almost nothing of any transactional value. I long harbored the idea that someone, perhaps even me, might gain something by reading through my many journals, but I long ago set aside that notion. There's little room to squeeze in any scholarly activity focused upon me while I'm actively engaging in being me. I once believed that reviewing my journals might one day help me to resolve some great mystery about myself, but I no longer hold that fantasy.

I also once believed that somebody, an antecedent perhaps centuries removed, might one day find it diverting to review what I was saying to myself back in ancient times. I catalogued many of my most poignant discoveries there, but I doubt that they are in anything like digestible form. When my father died, I inherited his journals. I found within them a one inch equals one inch replica of his activities of daily living rather than a chronicle of his life. There was no grand vision lurking between blood pressure readings and prescription takings. His journal stands like a scaffolding with no building within, not really a portrait of anything. My journals, while filled with philosophical musings, might render no better under anyone's but my own reviewing. My journaling's purpose was never to serve as a rough draft autobiography. I never achieved enough distance to gain enough perspective to muster that result. Or at least, I thought I hadn't.

It might be that only an unintentional autobiography could ever sidestep the usual vanity found within the more deliberate kind. It must take some considerable ego to forego living forward to even attempt to recount where one's been. What would make that effort in any way worth it? The reader might struggle to find any superego or id in the resulting work before ultimately questioning what the author thought he was producing besides his own ego stroking. My songs, because I never intended them to serve as that, seem the perfect autobiography of me, though probably to nobody else. The songs seem to stand on their own as also something different than simply personal reflection, but to my ears, they're technicolor Panavision representations of the journeys I've taken, in a similar way that jars of food I've canned and stored in the basement larder also provide a sensual history of whomever I used to be.

I could not have possibly deliberately created better self portraits. I am clearly no longer whomever I attempted to represent myself as then, yet I remain the eternal author of my own past experiences. The challenge was always remembering important details. I recall the headlines and perhaps the leading paragraph, but the local color and the odd iconic elements were lost until I resurrected the song I wrote about that experience. Then the emotional impact whacked me square in the face. It's sometimes been altogether too much for me to take. The cast of characters performing this set seems more numerous than simply me, but there's nobody else represented except the surprisingly multi-faceted fellow who often feels so damned one-dimensional. I suspect that we're each much more complicated than we appear even to ourselves. I find myself feeling extremely grateful for the songs I've written over the years.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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