Rendered Fat Content


Ohara Koson: A Crow on a Snow Covered Tree Stump (circa 1930s)
" … that sense that you're on the verge of being found out to be a fraud and mustered out of the club."

I so routinely engage in impossibilities that they hardly register anymore. Much of what I initiate might beforehand be much more easily proven impossible than likely, yet I proceed, often in sublime ignorance of the utter impossibility I'm initiating. I've usually convinced myself that I'm starting something rather normal, and I often am, but NormalImpossible, not any of the infinite other varieties of normal available. We might benefit from a quick declaration of definition here so that we might share a common meaning, if that's even possible. I declare the NormalImpossible to feature so much exploding variance as to render it finitely unplannable, untrackable, and uncontrollable. An exploding variance shifts due to more than a few [let's say, three] influences, moves unexpectedly or stealthily, and contains many mutually distracting moving parts. To focus upon any part of a NormalImpossibility is to render the observer essentially blind to the rest of the mechanism, producing a blind observer effect where one observer proves insufficient and more than one cannot agree upon what they've seen, producing a Blind Men and the Elephant situation, all perfectly normal in my experience engaging in NormalImpossibles.

One of the more prominent features of the NormalImpossible situation has always been the apparently normal human tendency to perceive them as much simpler than one could possibly prove to be.
We survive by trivializing, which might seem a sorry strategy except it often works. Trivializing reliably produces a sense of confidence that relaxes tension, which tends to leave one as pliable as a rag doll rather than brittle like china, a more likely state had one properly anticipated the normal complications they'd likely face at their own insistence. Paranoia bodes nobody well, so we've evolved to rely upon a light-hearted naiveté and have become quite unconsciously skilled at inducing and embracing it in ourselves and others. We call the more reality-based "defeatist" and refuse their advice and counsel. We largely engage while in trances, either self-inflicted or learned from contexts, often seeing right through otherwise obvious peril to surprisingly prevail. We succeed in achieving the NormalImpossible much more often than chance would suggest we might. We're blessed in this respect but usually don't notice how blessed or how close to peril we travelled. We're lucky SOBs until we aren't.

I was once a member in reasonably good standing of the trance-inducing industry, one which has grown to dominate most economies. In a world dominated by the NormalImpossible, societies cannot leave trance-inducing to chance, but must invest ever more in reassurance training and framable certificates to guarantee an adequate supply of fresh recruits. Best practices which don't actually produce much more than false confidence proliferate. Though nobody ever experiences any of the touted methods ever working, faith in the possibility that they might, helps keep the initiative flowing. Focusing always upon the next time, when lessons learned from the failed prior iterations might produce desired results, keeps momentum humming. The results just seem paradoxical if anyone slows down enough to deeply reflect. How could anyone produce a simultaneous utter failure and wild success? Yet precisely this stands as the hallmark and routine result of NormalImpossible work.

I had not yet accepted this perspective when I was still actively teaching people how to more properly manage projects. Near the end of my tenure, I began to recognize that the projects almost always managed them and rarely the other way around, again, a state I now recognize as typical of the NormalImpossible. If the project's managing you, the shoe's really on some other foot. However much you might plan, track, or control, the process will tend to get away from you, if only because it's not your process, but the project's, and the project and its process feature exploding variance. One might cope with this condition, but never successfully master, prevent, or avoid it.

I spoke with a long-standing colleague yesterday about his long career managing complicated projects. He admitted to me that he never once in his career ever felt adequate to manage any effort for which he'd been held responsible. He always felt as though he was on the verge of getting found out and being routed out of his responsibilities for not really knowing, for not actually controlling, for ineptly planning. He was, in my professional opinion, a master at managing the projects that actually managed him, but like most, perhaps, imposter syndrome haunted his entire career. I now understand that this, too, serves as a common feature of the NormalImpossible, that sense that you're on the verge of being found out to be a fraud and mustered out of the club. 'Twas always thus, I suspect.


Friday comes to muster out each week, however successful it might have been. A successful week passes just the same as a disastrous one. Time oozes on, rarely marching, but passing nonetheless. About the best I can do, engaging here in my NormalImpossibles, amounts to acknowledging its passing, to maintain at least that much awareness that it's not the same or continuous, but tenaciously the opposite, always changing and always at least subtly different. To insist otherwise seems to require that trance I was mentioning above, the one that keeps us rag dog pliable rather than brittle while also encouraging naiveté, though naiveté might remain the primary attribute NormalImpossible demands of us. I'm studying up in hopes of one day achieving a PhD in Naiveté with some Post-Doc practicum working with Beginner's Mind.

I began my writing week
GooseChasing. "One chases geese as an affirmation, confirmation that one's still believing that it might still be possible to accomplish something by employing personal initiative."

I next caught myself
CatchingShadows. "I've had my years on the run, times when not even the sun could catch me and I couldn't cast or catch a shadow for the life of me. I've lost interest in outrunning anything, even my destiny, especially my destiny."

I tried to put The Villa back together again as our Grand Refurbish nears completion in
Humpty. "If I knew how king's horses might help, I might also employ some similar bafflingly unobvious ploy to assist The Muse and I put our own personal old Humpty back together again"

I sort of surprised myself with the depth of emotion I ended up expressing in
HomeAwayFrom, the most popular piece I posted this period. "We're chasing our existence here, one step ahead or behind it, home a distant instinct, safe, an intermittently reassuring fiction. We might by all rights be afraid and choose not to go out much after dark."

I described the potentially damaging effects of attempting to recreate OldFashioneds in
NewFashioned. "Lord, please help prevent us from attempting to recreate that past, for it was never intended to become a tradition and never once existed as we remember. It was, like most celebrations, a one-time event, never to be repeated, which made it truly sacred."

I next reported on the many set-backs our Grand Refurbishment has recently been experiencing in
FallingsForward. A perfectly normal occurrence that nonetheless feels wrong. "He didn't believe that giving people permission to accept how things are would help anything become any different, when, as near as I can tell, it's the only thing that can."

I ended my writing week by deliberately letting my emotions get the better of me in
Evocations. "I'm speaking here of evocative prosperity, the kind that "only" exists in one's head. The only sort really worth experiencing."

This was an extraordinarily fruitful writing week, noteworthy perhaps only because it also qualified as NormalImpossible. Not any of it was ordained beforehand and I would change little, even it it turned out that I could, which it won't, so I can't. ChasingGooses, CatchingShadows, struggling to put Humpty back together again. HomeAwayFrom, NewFashioned traditions, never to be repeated while FallingForward into Evocations of deep appreciation. How perfect! Thank you for following along and beside. Your presence continues to make all the considerable difference to me.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

blog comments powered by Disqus