Rendered Fat Content


Charles François Daubigny: Night Effect (1862)

"Imagine how appreciative The Muse must have been!"

Of all of humankind's truly ingenious inventions, the headlight must certainly rank just below the bottom of the list, for headlights simply do not work for the purpose intended. Some do, indeed, light the way, but only paradoxically, for if they enable me to see, they blind everybody coming toward me, clearly violating the First, Do No Harm Clause of Design and Manufacture. A NightDrive easily turns into a life-threatening experience because of this one piece of so-called safety equipment. How would an automobile designer resolve this grave shortcoming? Maybe by switching to the infrared spectrum? How am I supposed to know? I'm just the victim of this design, not its inventor.

The Muse will insist that my complaint lies with the remnants of that cataract surgery I underwent four years ago this month. One of the improvements the opthalmologist promised pre-procedure, was regaining my ability to NightDrive, as if I'd ever had one. I'd long before abandoned that practice as just too dangerous, and not just because of the lowly headlamp's grave shortcomings. I just couldn't see with enough specificity to guarantee that I would successfully complete any NightDrive, so I took to avoiding them. Occasionally, I'd be impressed into post-twilight service, but I became super-cautious, only prudent. Driving a steady forty miles per hour on the freeway was one way I compensated for the increased risk of catastrophe, a practice which tended to drive the lead-footed Muse apoplectic with envy, I suspect, for she has always seemed incapable of driving at any speed not exceeding the posted limit. My more modest rate of making post-sunset progress grated on her a tiny bit.

After the cataract surgery, my ability to NightDrive never really appeared. Oh, I suppose it improved some, but then so did my ability to perceive light, a result that served to amplify the still lowly headlamp's primary shortcoming. The oncoming ones blinded me even more effectively post-surgery. Fortunately, I have largely been able to simply schedule around this shortcoming. There's pretty much no place I want to go after dark, so a truce seemed easily maintained. On those exceedingly rare instances when I'd be called upon to provide assistance, I could always crawl there and back, compensating for my lack of visual acuity by merely dramatically reducing my speed. Needless to say, I avoided all freeways. Freeway people seem too single-minded to warmly tolerate a free-thinker like me into their squadrons.

Last night, The Muse's flight was delayed for an hour by lightning when attempting to leave Denver. That shifted her scheduled just before twilight arrival to just after dark, so I'd encountered one of those rare instances where I'd have to make an exception and perform an always-dreaded NightDrive. The Muse had missed her supper before her departure, so I'd scored her a salad to eat on the drive back from the airport, less than an hour before dusk, at least 50% longer after. The first five miles was a dreaded freeway, which I entered with decent intentions, though that enormous pickup behind me with headlamps positioned higher than the Schooner's roofline, was not welcoming. He demonstrated his headlamps' special property, leaving me almost completely blinded. I slowed in sympathetic response, which I sensed was somehow not precisely what he wanted. We both somehow survived the encounter as he quickly sped past me into apparent oblivion.

The following hour and a half featured The Muse suggesting that I find some non-existent place to pull over so she could show me how to properly exceed the speed limit after dark, and me imagining what the road ahead must look like through the blinding haze of oncoming headlights. The lighting and even the signage, installed, I suspect, with the sincere intention of helping, needless to say, didn't, and even managed to make an already difficult situation worse, for every light cast into that particular darkness spread until it obscured whatever it had been designed to illuminate, as if each was a blinding spotlight I was staring into. I thought myself successful when, as we finally made it to the four lane coming into town, only six or seven cars quickly sped past me, probably in abject frustration. Two of them had been stopped by the usual posted Statie just around the next corner. I putted by, managing almost two-thirds of the posted speed limit, practicing extreme safety on a rare NightDrive. Imagine how appreciative The Muse must have been!


Progress Seems Challenging
My writing week shared certain particulars with that NightDrive, for, as usual, I completed it almost blinded. I can never see what's coming, and it's not until I stop to look back that I ever come to understand what I might have accomplished in terms of understanding. I, too, tend to drive much slower when writing than any posted speed limit suggests, for I'm typing with my two and a half typing fingers, the others useless for the task, and this futuristic keyboard often misinterprets my intentions and usually produces an inordinate number of errors needing correction before I'm finished. I felt especially anxious to finish my writing duties early this week since the mid-summer sun has come to render the scaffolding painful to sit on by late morning. I'd rather work in the immediate post dawn, but even when I manage to start by two am, I'm fortunate to mount the scaffolding by seven. Progress seems achingly slow when barely mustering two-thirds of the posted speed limit.

I began my writing week waxing about just how
Exhausting has been our Damned Pandemic. This story proved the week's most popular. "Exhausting engagement seems to render us stupid."

I considered my now lengthy repainting project with new eyes in
ReBeginning. "It might be that we only ever come to the end of any story by a process of continuous ReBeginning, that ends were always simply the sum of those restarts."

I called preparing a plural in
Preparings. "Preparings might represent the by far most common sort of process, the multi-iteration, ended exclusively by good judgement operations that so often frustrate us so."

I sort of celebrated a year since I kicked my latest addiction in
Dedicting. "I suffered my addiction in secret and in silence, adopting that mañana lifestyle insisting that I was not that addicted, but only ever seriously considered quitting tomorrow. That pattern carried me through more than the next decade, unsettled."

I acknowledged the necessity of occasionally accumulating
FreshInfinity. "I consider this reset necessary and important, for without periodic refreshers on the scale we're actually dealing with, people can and do become subsumed with self-importance."

I reflected on the effect interacting with
MadMen has had on me. "Did I think I was the one preventing catastrophe from happening? Not exactly, no, but I felt as if I was somewhat of a decency counterbalance. Later, indecision might prove indistinguishable from collusion. You eventually became just another part of the problem, reputation essentially ruined, while the MadMen marched on. "

I ended my writing week reflecting on the fine and widely under-appreciated art of
CuttingIn. "Ninety-nine percent of the actual effort will go into painting that wall, but that cut line will define the entire quality of the finished product."

Even moving at two-thirds of the posted speed limit tends to produce progress. Such initiative demands patience, since the dedication required can simply feel Exhausting. Each new moment, though, brings another ReBeginning, somewhat depending upon previous Preparings. Moving at one's own pace can become addictive of the sort no Dedicting's ever sought. We thrive best, it seems, when injected with FreshInfinity we cannot quite yet comprehend. We might be mistaken for MadMen when we're actually just blinded. The body of our best work will very likely always be judged by the quality of its edges. Thank you for following along with me and for not being in a big hurry about getting anywhere together!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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