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"Allow some self-satisfaction to wash up and over."

Yesterday turned out to be one of those once-in-a-hundred-or-two-hundred days where everything just went my way. I finished stuff. My usual queue seems clogged with various undertakings likely to do me in before I ever finish them. I could justify feeling discouraged, even despondent, at the continuing prospect of never, ever completing anything had I not long ago grown more or less accustomed to the unfinished queue's essentially permanent presence. Over time, I suppose I've tempered my objectives a little — or a LOT. Incompleteness brings no sense of anxiety anymore, but more often leaves me feeling complacent, as if completion might have always been a rare but not entirely special thing, a Red Herring. I wouldn't engage listlessly so much as with a certain sangfroid. I tend to pick away at things.

But then once every quarter or so, I experience a truly productive day, one where I not only complete something, I complete something huge.
Writing a song, for instance, was once a fairly regular completion for me, but now tends to occur less than annually. I seem to naturally defer copyediting my writing, so I accumulate huge piles of un-reviewed pages before crawling into and finally through them. Yesterday, I finished a fresh song and also completed copyediting a manuscript. By the end of the day, The Muse was noticing that I might have been feeling quite the dude, walking upright and leaning slightly forward, as if a budding master of some significant universe. Such displays seem commonplace in today's world, where everyone's surrounded by productivity-enhancing technologies. It's a wonder everyone's self-esteem isn't all the time overflowing all over their shoes, as productive as we all must feel, but I suspect that even with the plethora of performance-enhancing everythings, we're most of us mostly simply slogging through apparently infinite queues.

It might be that the universe was devised to keep her inhabitants humble, each species born with eyes much larger than their stomach and instinctively predestined to always bite off way more than any could chew, let alone swallow. This gorging sort of engagement easily becomes habitual, though it's hardly reliably satisfying. Its purpose probably isn't satisfaction, though, but more likely motivation. If we're inevitably behind, we're more likely to continue trying to catch up. This seems a crude mechanism, and incredibly wasteful, but nonetheless effective. We move forward. Otherwise, we might satisfy ourselves by simply sitting still and going nowhere at all.

Bringing anything into the world seems a cheeky occupation. Does this world really need another song or yet another copyedited manuscript? Hardly. I suspect that this world could survive just fine without fresh infusions of any artwork or artful production. This world doesn't need these things, but those of us inhabiting this world sure seem to need them, though we might need the ego pulse accompanying producing them more than we need the actual products of our apparent productivity. It feels damned gratifying to complete something. The productivity experts expect to devise means for ever increasing our productivity, but I believe productivity tastes best when consumed by means of small, nearly infinitesimal nibbles punctuated with the occasional, enormously satisfying swallow. Wolfed down, production loses its savor. It seems to need to melt across a palate much more than it ever needs swallowing.

So I strutted around yesterday feeling quite the productive dude, preening what might pass for my pinfeathers and engaging with the world as if I were a productive member of society rather than a muddler by nature. I found I could look people directly in the eye for a change and not demur so damned decisively, as if I weren't much compared to everyone else. I felt as though I'd gained a certain peerage. I'd finished my work. I'd cleaned my plate. I'd passed on to the next bench the product of my own assembly. Though a fresh unfinished piece lurks just offstage, I could take a moment, take a breath, and take a well-deserved bow before setting back to work. Some efforts seem best represented by their single concluding piece of punctuation. Hard stop! Allow some self-satisfaction to wash up and over before continuing on.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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