"PreConstruction always proves to be ironic milling around …"

By this time in my life, I should have accumulated more than adequate experience in the fine though under-appreciated art of PreConstruction, an essential stage in every development project commonly referred to as The Essential Milling Around Period. Each New Year throws me both forward and backward, ahead into a fresh calendar and also back to my internal drawing board to somehow determine who and what I might become this year. A new year's early weeks highlight that I simply do not yet know who I'll become. My now extensive experience within this throwback space insists that my greatest potential danger lies exclusively in deciding too early on inadequate evidence and understanding, so I'm out collecting stones, as Jerry Weinberg once characterized this activity, unprepared to declare my intentions for employing them. The resulting pile of rocks might not appear to be much yet, but only because it isn't. A few seem of exquisite proportion, potential cornerstones or centerpieces, though without a clearer Gestalt, I simply cannot yet definitively declare.

This time unsettles me. Seven hundred and forty two individual page views observed me gathering stones over the last long week.
I was grasping for straws as well as stones, hoping for an emergent glimmer of insight which might ultimately prove adequate to serve as an ongoing guiding light. I felt out of time and disoriented in space, dizzy to the point that I didn't notice that yesterday was Friday until long after I'd posted yesterday's reflection or projection or whatever-in-the-Hell-it-was, which I labeled SmallDistinctions, an inkling of a clue that I might be getting to the point where I once again know what I'm doing. But I want to avoid jumping right into conclusions.

My week eventually extended into eight days, but began with my acknowledging that I was, indeed, inhabiting the
DreadOfWinter, evidence that acknowledgement of how things are might well-serve any PreConstruction effort. Next, my ennui moved into what passes for decisive action this time of year in Waiting. I next indulged in a little railing at the tireless machine, a common-enough activity in these dark days before spring, in Shakedown. Acknowledging that the anticipated game will be rigged seems a useful preparation for whatever I next choose to do. I then considered the anthropologist's universal plight, to be witness to nearly indecipherable performances, myths made manifest, in RoeDayOh, a reminder that actual construction, when it comes, might seem more mythical than material. I next presented a small indulgence, figuring that given that I had not yet stumbled into design or purpose, I might benefit from simply Appreciating those observing, as well as myself, though I uncovered a double bind or two lurking there.

Whew! I went on to describe
LateStatusQuo, that PreConstruction period when the past seems most powerful and also that point where the past has already lost its influence. I then stumbled into an unbidden description of Panicking, which I concluded must be evidence of the emergence of higher emotional maturity, a potentially useful PreConstruction acknowledgement, which took me forward to where I began this recap, making SmallDistinctions again. However lofty my eventual construction this year, I'll select and place its comprising stones by making the smallest of small distinctions. Like with this retrospective exercise, I still make my meaning backwards from the way I collect experiences and construct essays. Once I've passed some most special of all stones, Milestones, I might come to understand what I was up to during construction, and, indeed, during PreConstruction. This paradoxical understanding seems essential when considering any new construction.

PreConstruction challenges the urge to build. It serves as a dedication test, delivering a seemingly random array of disparate discoveries, which seem unlikely to ever coalesce into any coherent final work. I meditate as I mumble just beneath my breath, railing about the purposelessness of this time, reflecting that my experience might accurately represent fitful hibernation dreaming, fit only to fill in this space before this year's actual work commences. I might be catching on that this time serves as no actual dream, that the way this time feels might just be the way of all things. During this Essential Milling Around Period, I might be constructing this most essential understanding. Design proves to contain more than ninety percent acknowledgment of just how it always has been, and not mostly aspiration for how it really should have always been. The changes I might pursue in construction probably won't leave very much very new, though fresh insights into fresh associations might reward my pursuit. PreConstruction always proves to be ironic milling around, not
nothing yet but something impending, forward looking before full emersion into a fresh present. Let me not forget this time.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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