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Johannes Vermeer: Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (c. 1657–1659)

"This is how our world progresses."

Beginning might break surface tension but it does little to nothing to determine NextSteps. These seem barely implied by initial movement, uncertain even of the direction taken so far, for little distance was covered and no clear rhythms or end points have yet come into focus. The first few postings of any new series sort of try on identities, hoping something clicks, for the Author aspires to create something capable of making some sort of difference. The significance of his topic choice not yet obvious, similar past beginnings managed to step up to and into their own importance, but there's nothing insisting that this one must or will step up to or into until it does and already has. I mark my time to hold my place in line. NextSteps emerge awkwardly every time.

Breaking surface tension, though, amounts to the first great success of this series for me, for nothing's written, either, insisting that surface tension might be broken this or any time.
I'm reminded of all the many times I focused so upon achieving a goal that I utterly neglected to consider what I might do next, after crossing that long focused upon finish line, for no finish line ever really delineates the finish of anything. It might more usefully be called BeginningLine, because, if anything, it denotes the start of something different from before. Nobody ever runs the same race twice. The Beginning Line denotes the end of the race, for sure, but then it also marks the beginning of something probably eventually bigger than the race toward that finish ever was, a portal into a vast new world, and a world largely unconsidered by anyone focusing intently upon crossing that so-called Finish Line. I arrive to realize that I've not considered what now? or what next/, unprepared to determine NextSteps.

And my positioning seems perfect, considering, or if not precisely perfect, then familiar again. It was never any different. I sought to leave home as an adolescent only to succeed and find myself facing … shall we call them … complications? Landing on my knees, I had to learn to stand again, eventually on my own radically reconsidered hind legs, hardly an elegant transition. I lobbied hard to find an agent who finally found me a gig. Then it became my challenge to merely perform as I had not imagined I might, opening the show for some sadomasochistic Scottish punk band, audience screaming for my head. With each transition in my life so far, the introduction has proven shocking, and unexpectedly so. I might imagine that I would one day catch on to the governing pattern and project a touch further into my own future, but I haven't felt moved enough to accomplish that yet, if that were even possible. I suspect that projecting too far forward might upset the universe's already overly delicate balance. NextSteps are supposed to emerge, not be constructed or planned.

My granddaughter Tilda, visiting this week on Spring Vacation, turns everything into something. She invents little rituals which just seem to stick as of they were inevitable. She might choose to drink her apple cider with her spoon then inspire her older brother to follow her lead. Shortly, everyone at the table is at least considering this different way to drink. Tilda's oblivious to how she influences people in this way, I think, and she can seem awfully obnoxious sometimes, insistent upon doing things "wrong." She nonetheless inspires and reminds me that a small choice made in any odd moment might reverberate influence much further than imagined. NextSteps lead into NextSteps and before too awfully long, we have a brand new dance, familiar but somehow different. This is how our world progresses.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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