Rendered Fat Content


WPA Federal Art Project, 1935–1943: Lithographer at Work (1938)
"Dreams come true not by merely dreaming but by finally waking up."

Begin by going out of your mind. Leave all sense-making behind. Imagine a point in space and time, then focus attention there until the present and all the distance between now and then including the here and now seems to disappear. NowHere becomes nowhere. ThereThen becomes The New Beginning, and everything before, preamble. Arriving there becomes The Purpose; the journey, mere annoyance. 'Are we there yet?' becomes the mantra for existence, one you might just as well be absent from since you're living for a future divorced from this past, your present. Clearly not yet having mastered living, you're still striving beyond your reach instead. What poisonous thoughts have invaded your head that you imagine you might master anything in absentia? Mastering anything seems to demand mostly JourneyManning, which, with luck, might result in producing just an instant of apparent mastery near the end. It was not the master of any future who crafted those results, but the tedious JourneyManning all along the way. Later, after the world no longer holds any need for a more alluring future, then a master might emerge for recognition and appreciation. Until then, it's all local navigation, grunt work, and aggravation. One must master feeling put-upon first. Rest and laurels might follow later.

I used to teach a course I titled Mastering Projects Workshop. I should have called it JourneyManning Projects Workshop
, for gaining mastery could not have possibly been the point of project work, or if it was the point, that point could have only been achieved by means of considerable JourneyManning; tolerant acceptance, toting, and hauling. Most of what seems the result of mastery comes into being by JourneyManning. The master might have offered the concept but the worker-bee effort manifested the result. I caught myself this week projecting so intently that I noticed myself disappearing. I had been discounting the inconveniences before me in favor of imagining ahead. I was attempting to will away my present, which might have been the only gift I would ever receive, in favor of an imagined future. That distraction was not evidence of my mastery emerging, but of my continuing apprenticeship calling. Masters do not become masters by practicing mastery, but by practiced apprenticing and by embracing JourneyManning. Mastery always trails far behind and after. And once achieving mastery, the master sustains himself by maintaining the humble attention he first mastered apprenticing and by later JourneyManning.

We hired a master painter to paint The Villa, but he's done no painting. His crew, under his distant direction, does the work we hired him to complete. He'd proven himself a master and gained his reputation not by being a master, I suspect, but by able JourneyManning. JourneyManning slakes lime and grinds pigment. Masters deal in higher concepts and finish work, and little of the actual effort involved. He shakes hands and commands scope, leaving practical details to helpers. HeadingHomeward conscripts The Muse and I for scut work that owners might prefer to deflect. I'm reduced to near ignorance as specialists manifest what I propose. I do not know better and might only make matters worse should I insist upon them following my sense of proper. I get to trust that they know their craft and humbly submit to taking direction from paint-splattered kids. My finest contributions might well have been my tactical absences, disappearances to ward off learning too much. It's ultimately all sausage-making. Weak stomachs and future-dreamers wash out first. Nobody, not even myself, needs the mastery I might embody.

I ache for an end to these ordeals, but ordeals are precisely what HeadingHomeward entails. My lunches aren't free, either, and even the ones I miss cost me something, I confess. I'd much rather leave my boots off and take a nap, dream of the outcome, then wake up having already arrived, but my bed's covered with drop cloths and my boots command my feet into them. Heading seems an endless gerund and Homeward hardly a destination. I can't move mountains while wearing slippers and I cannot move even a hillock all by myself. I'm sometimes the customer sponsoring the work but I more often feel as though I'm just JourneyManning some small component in the rough direction of completion. My JourneyMannning provides more significant contribution toward completion than my mastering ever did. Dreams come true not by merely dreaming but by finally waking up.


I woke up this morning to find another Friday manifesting, the end of another long week where I might have been healing but often felt like I was Wounding myself instead. My daughter now dispersed into wind and sky, I understandably questioned whether I could take on another new beginning after absorbing such an ending. The HeadingHomeward continued, though, some days in frantic earnest and other days by sheer, audacious acquiescence.

I began my writing week feeling angry at the world in
Grrratitude, then set about suing for peace with it. "We might first justifiably shake our fists in Grrratitude, then later, humbly fold our hands in reverence, awe, and acceptant gratitude, wiser than we ever expected to become for the passage."

I next engaged in a little self-distracting by railing about
CONfiguring my new machine, concluding that, "Not only can we not imagine how it will be, we cannot seem to see how anything actually is …"

I then attempted to make some sense of my occasional senselessnesses in
Hollowdays. "I recognize that even my heart takes a rest beat for every working one."

I reflected on one of the more unsettling elements of HeadingHomeward in
Unmooring, my most popular posting this week. "All change begins in utter innocence, the most benign kind of ignorance, fueled by reassurances of experience, for we insist that we've done something very much like this several times before. We haven't."

I found respite in good old-fashioned labor in
Schlep. "To seek mastery beyond what one feels moved to be, to be becoming, seems a curse exceeding Sisyphus'."

While I usually try to avoid posting anything attempting to tell anyone anything, I made an exception in
Wounding, a rough draft instruction set I wrote for myself to remind me how healing might work. "It might ache at first, healing being a blessedly cursed experience."

I ended my writing week describing my sense of
Displacement with HeadingHomeward. "What once seemed dependable now seems hostile."

Coming to peace first seems like an unwanted cease and desist order, for disorder desires no rest. It seems to need to tucker itself out before peace can overtake and influence it into compliance again. The great benefit of becoming a blind man might come from finally clearly seeing the elephant again, aided by compassionate helpers. I was so sure that I'd seen the elephant before that I neglected to look again to find that I'd only been introduced to the rumor of its existence. I'm more confident that I've seen the elephant now, though I suspect I've not yet made the acquaintance of its essence.

Thank you for following my muddling here. Were I a master, I would have assigned this effort to more worthy apprentices and journeymen to attempt. As it's been so far, JourneyManning has had to suffice. Maybe there's no difference.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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