Rendered Fat Content


Henri Toulouse-Lautrec:
The Hangover (Suzanne Valadon) (c. 1888)

" … permanently resolve nothing all over again again."

Months later and I still hadn't finished painting that first side of The Villa. I'd innocently believed when I started that I would have completed painting all three sides I'd planned to repaint this year, but I hadn't. I'd become an intermittent in practice. In theory, I almost always work continuously, diligently laboring until I finish a job. In practice, I lose my spot. This year, I could safely blame the weather. Too much rain early, then way too much heat later. Whatever, I could not maintain the natural rhythm of the work, let alone find it. I relegated myself into a odd-lot contractor, unable to reach scale or maintain cadence. My execution was therefore patchy. Oh, the emerging finished product looks fine, as if produced by continuous process, even if it was not. It took more effort as intermittent work than it could have possibly otherwise taken. As I near completion, I watch myself ReMounting that scaffolding one more time.

That first time climbing to the top resolved nothing.
It was a local solution to a much more global condition. I was apparently not born to mount the high trapeze. I much prefer to work with both feet firmly on the ground rather than with my head bumping into clouds. I can climb that ladder, but no amount of practice climbing it leaves me wanting more. I will probably always be a reluctant ladder climber. What I know about myself for ladders goes almost equally for scaffolding. I prefer scaffolding over ladder work because it's possible to sit down on scaffolding. Ladder work's all standing with the rungs succeeding in breaking down my arches. Ladder work's also always balancing work, trying to do with two hands what ordinarily requires four. It's juggling better suited to circuses, with me as the clown. With scaffolding it's up and down, up then down. Getting to the top mostly means you remember what you should have brought up but didn't.

Whether ladder, then, or scaffolding, I find myself ReMounting again and again. Had that first time up to the top resolved anything, I would not have to talk myself into climbing back up there again. I imagine from the ground that I've found the flaw in my grand strategy, that the scaffolding will prove unworkable for me, and that there's no real resolution possible. Sure, I might have overcome those same shortcomings on the previous strip of wall. With this placement, though, I seem much more certain to fall, likely to severely hurt myself. I keep myself grounded with my catastrophically negative self talk until I can barely stand to be with myself anymore. I might be just exhausting my store of counter arguments, because I know that once the rain stops or the sun stops glaring, I'll concoct some story and talk myself into ReMounting that scaffolding again. That ReMounting won't permanently resolve anything, either. No amount of practice or experience could possibly erase my pre-existing condition, that of being a BIG CHICKEN when working at height.

It seems to me that through my several careers and even in my writing, I have largely been engaged in ReMounting. I seem to need to talk myself into even doing what I enjoy. I deeply doubt that I possess much native talent for anything, so consequently, for me, faking it constitutes doing. My pretend competence has been the rather open secret of my such-as-they-were successes, fueled by reluctance. I need to talk myself into ReMounting each time. Every morning, for instance, when I assume my position at my writing desk, I arrive there only after a sometimes lengthy lecture, one focused upon mustering just enough false courage to mount that scaffolding again. I often fail to muster an adequate counter narration to justify not doing, so there I am, climbing up that scaffolding again, which, of course, permanently resolves nothing. It just gets me up and going that morning. Tomorrow will bring another impending ReMounting preceded by another lecture which will most likely permanently resolve nothing all over again again.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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