Rendered Fat Content


Paul Gauguin: The Large Tree (1891)

"It was an inconvenient time …"

I look at an old set list and I realize that it represents RealWork that I actually accomplished. Each title manifested the hard way; none came easy, thank heavens, for RealWork must be difficult if it ever hopes to become rewarding. Nor was I ever paid to create even the least or the very best of the songs appearing on that list. I created each as an act, and sometimes an extended act, of something very much like love. Not like love of country or of spouse, but of self, but not narcissistic love, more like the filial kind. I created none of my songs in the hope that I might one day make money off them. Well, I should amend that blanket statement by saying that I wrote precisely one song with the sincere hope of making money off it, at the encouragement of my then agent, who'd insisted that the only way I'd ever make any real money in "the business" would be to write a disco hit, so I set about attempting it. The result was the biggest piece of shit I ever produced. I will not play it for you even if you ask nicely. I won't even play it for myself. It was a blessing of a lesson, one which further solidified an understanding. RealWork's not for pay or for profit, but properly for the ages.

My understanding came slowly, the recognition that I had been training myself in RealWork since I'd started becoming addicted to my instrument, since I wrote that first song.
Nobody hired me to write that tune. Nobody supervised its development. Nobody, not even my eventual audience members, were really qualified to pass judgement about the result. It was the sincere product of faith-based initiative, more a compulsion than an occupation. I could hardly have not produced it. How long it took didn't matter because I created it while sitting smack dab in the middle of eternity. If time had not precisely stopped while I "worked," the future reached back. I was launching something into the ether. It took precisely as long as it took to produce. I intended the result to be eternal and it didn't matter if it really would be or ever was forever. It mattered that it emerged as a result of RealWork and not just some job.

Over time, RealWork came to dominate my days. I'd be up early, not to get ready to go out to work, but to get to my RealWork before then. Returning in the evening, my RealWork might be on my mind, my day's laboring having kept me from producing anything even vaguely qualifying as never-ending, as eternal. I carried around a small notebook and pen, or a pocket full of little index cards, upon which I'd jot the odd phrase or observation. Most of my songs began as jotted notes, jangles in the course of the day, interruptions which grew into rhythmic or musical phrases which inserted themselves into my days. I'd catch myself subvocalizing something more intrusive than any ear worm top forty tune, repeating it, turning it over in my head, forgetting then rediscovering it lurking. It was "just" another song manifesting, my RealWork insisting upon a little attention while I was tied up in what society might call my "real job." My RealWork was never once my real job.

My song lists represented all of this effort, all of this invisible toil I'd invested. These were innocent investments, ones never intended to payoff someday. The Muse insists that had I ever hit it big, it probably would have killed me. It would have represented a breach between what I experienced and what I'd intended that nothing could have possibly mended. Better for me, I now firmly believe, that others think my songwriting a mere hobby rather than a significant piece of my RealWork here. It represents more identity than artifact, more present reality than looking backward, for each song on the list awaits resurrection. It will be alive again, alive and fresh whenever I just perform it again. Not aged more than a minute since its initial inception. Each stopped time, or perhaps stretched it to the point where past and future lost meaning. Each serves as a time capsule holding a moment of manifestation eternally present, a standard RealWork product.

I speak like a madman, because I'm no master. I once became a passable journeyman, capable of producing good enough if not precisely perfect pieces. I could satisfy myself with my work, an ability that far exceeds satisfying even the most exacting overseer. I could also sometimes satisfy others with my RealWork products, especially TheMuse, who first came to know me through my tunes. We were strangers, undifferentiated others, until one evening when she happened upon me playing a song I'd written. In that moment, time slowed enough for us to notice each other across that room and to feel curious. Who was that,? she wondered. Who was she to notice me? It was an inconvenient time to cross a line. We crossed it.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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