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Progress might be the persistent illusion that something’s getting done when we’re merely rearranging deck chairs. I don’t say this to denigrate any of the fine deck chair rearrangers in any crew, for they often perform masterfully. Their’s is a performance, sometimes tremendously satisfying for both themselves and their audience(s), but it will not last. It will not settle anything. Nothing will be finished; nothing done.

I believe a balance persists through each iteration of any activity, all the elements interconnected. I can shove and dig, wash and paint, curse and praise without changing this balance, for the balance persists in spite of what I might do with the intention changing anything. I can even stand back at any convenient punctuation point and note how far I’ve come without ever knowing how far I still have to go. The effort might seem over, but it is more likely infinite; endless.

I still relish both the small and the seemingly large milestones I ‘achieve.’ I celebrate completions that will certainly initiate even more of what I, in that moment, would swear I’d left behind me. The life predicated upon making progress seems destined to disappoint. What, then, might move me to begin anything again or to continue to illusory completion?

I almost never know where to begin and never really find a destination until I’ve wandered around a bit. This morning, The Muse asked me what needed doing today, as if I might have a master plan, as if I might follow that plan. Though I’ve spent much of my professional life in the project management ‘field’, I don’t believe in the first tenets of that ‘profession’, which seems filled with perfectly reasonable good advice that simply does not work. It focuses upon making progress, which all by itself seems futile enough to suck the life out of any livelihood. There’s a good reason why people cringe when the professional project manager shows up.

I placated The Muse with a list of possibilities, none of which either of us must absolutely address today. We’re at that point of the adventure where everything depends upon everything else, and almost nothing escapes the gridlock. We’re playing a tile puzzle which has no blank spaces, and we must pry up a tile to move any tile. Prying seems our primary occupation, but when was anything any different from that?

I suppose I could go all cynical on myself, swap out my evident joy for a persistent despondency over my obvious lack of progress, over all the drudgery remaining for us to experience, over the ultimate recognition that we fell short of where we might have fallen, but I don’t see the utility in becoming the wounded optimist. I rearrange deck chairs, and I rearrange so freaking masterfully that few can even dream of matching my technique. Tomorrow or the day after, most of what I accomplish today will come undone, then I or another master will find opportunity to engage again as we have so often engaged before.

Life might be found in the doing, not in the done-ing.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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