Rendered Fat Content


Matsubara Naoko: Chinese Theatre (1959)

" … probably every damned one of us at first."

Projects more often die from indigestion than starvation. Success more often results from Limiting scope than from expanding it. If, as I proposed yesterday, all Success is Limited Success, the fine art of Limiting stands as an essential ability for anyone seeking Success. No whining, now, for we are not ultimately judged by how much crap we can cram into any pillowcase, but by how well one manages to sleep on what was finally crammed in there. The surest ways to fail seem tied to trying to drag altogether too much stuff across any finish lime. It might seem heartless, but it seems essential that we each learn how to abandon so that we might thrive. We might even be best defined by what we managed to leave behind.

I know almost for certain that my first iteration of expectations will prove too rich, altogether too expansive for me to ever make good on.
I subsequently should have by now become quite adept at jettisoning what should eventually evolve into irrelevance, but I seem to still be lousy at it. I grasp my gists by their shoulders, not by their tails, so I struggle to tell my meat from my potatoes, my substance from chaff. It would be laughable how unskilled I remain at this fine art of Limiting. My ineptness itself seems almost artful. I break my own heart and discourage my own courage. If I don't manage it, the universe will complete the effort. Either way, some way, winnowing will occur and, tada!!, I will feel successful, sometime after gutting my existence.

This must be the part of the story where I confide my top five tips for Limiting exposure to failure, except I haven't got any top five tips. I haven't got one. Trimming burdens should, I suspect, stand up there next to staring into the sun as one of those skills nobody ever comes close to mastering. One might, if clever, though, come to stare at this particular sun by extension, working with shadows and reflected light to affect some retrospectively desired end. One might propose arbitrary boundaries for the sole purpose of enforcing them and thereby forcing a few choices out of contention. One might convince themselves that their boundaries are not, unlike others', in the least bit arbitrary and therefore qualify as moral and therefore, defensible. We concoct right. One might assume the resulting phony high ground to qualify as their imperative and the surrounding low country to be, regrettably, necessarily omitted. One backs into one's omissions like one tends to back into one's Successes.

It seems a blessing that we rarely remember whatever it was that we left behind to affect our Successes. The separation anxiety tends to dissolve with subsequent activity. One simply cannot continue to dwell upon a few also rans when in the heat of battle. We have plenty to juggle even after jettisoning the more troubling requirements, the more Utopian objectives.

There was this house a few streets over, the owner of which decided to create a fresh new brick face for it back in the late sixties. I remember clearly over the subsequent forty years how progress just seemed stalled. Finally, some time probably forty years later, the city forced the owner to forfeit the property. It had become what insurance carriers call an attractive nuisance, the sort of place that attracts delinquents, dangerous. An empty lot now graces that spot where an aspiration never got trimmed down to Success size. It serves as a good reminder for those of us still thinking bigger than our britches, which, admit it, is probably every damned one of us at first.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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