Rendered Fat Content


Christian Julius Gustav Planer,
Philips Koninck: Hermit Reading (19th century)

"I might just as well be Rededicating my efforts …"

It doesn't take much to distract me. A tiny break in even a long-standing routine usually serves as more than an adequate impetus to go off my rails. I think of myself as a dedicated worker, but I seem to stand with one foot out the door, ready to divert my attention at the mere rumor of a hat dropping somewhere, anywhere. One might easily conclude that I lack an underlying discipline, and this observation might well prove both accurate as well as beside any useful point. Discipline should not be necessary and only prove essential in cases where one's held hostage, attempting to complete someone else's effort. Completing's one's own work should prove to enliven such that little discipline's demanded. I believe that if I'm focused on achieving my objectives, motivation should naturally take care of itself. That it only sometimes takes care of itself occasionally puts me at a distinct disadvantage.

The end of my Covid infection left me feeling ambivalent about Publishing, about everything.
Doing Covid proved easy enough. For the duration, I lost responsibility for accomplishing anything. I suspended my usual expectations and held myself accountable only for doing nothing. This proved a struggle at first, for I had grown accustomed to accomplishing some little something every morning as if to justify my continuing existence. But breaking that obligation left me adrift. I suddenly had no mission to accomplish, no charter to guide my choices. I frittered away my time, my very existence as if that illness had absolved me of any responsibility as a human, as a person. I lived as if I was protected by a Get Out Of Everything Card, a license to do absolutely nothing. I took mean advantage of myself.

Feeling better, I faunched at the prospect of going back into harness. I explained to myself that it had been ages since I'd enjoyed anything like a carefree existence. I told myself I could afford to extend my vacation a few days longer. Fortunately, some symptoms lingered as if to extend the shelf life of my more plausible excuses. I really did still feel chilled. My appetite had really not yet returned. I had learned too well in elementary school how to extend a two-day cold into a three-day absence. A day or two of idleness could absolutely undermine months of dedicated engagement. Each of those days seemed wasted yet ached to be repeated. I could honestly misrepresent myself to myself, feeling as though I'd forgotten how to engage in ordinary time. My mom would finally refuse an extension, and I would ferry out into an absolutely unfamiliar world feeling every bit an alien attempting my old routine, in near desperate need of a little Rededicating.

What was it that I attempted there before I was so resoundingly distracted? The Muse and I traveled to New Orleans and then returned with Covid. Now recovered from the virus, we find ourselves two weeks hence, well into an unanticipated future and feeling ridiculously disoriented. I made a breakthrough in there, figuring out how to assemble manuscripts more efficiently, but then I lost focus and went unconscious. Reawakening, I'm still dreaming, making no real progress. Still touched by my latest innovations, but not yet actively practicing them.

Further, my entire extended schedule was disrupted, leaving backlogs on every possible front. The yard screams for attention. My desk whimpers beneath piles of unattended papers. The scene seems to plead for me to go unconscious, to fall prey to some freshly plausible distraction when I really need some serious Rededication.

We each eventually grow up, regardless of how vehemently we might resist. We're overtaken, more or less, without our actual volition. We might seem to possess a choice, but our most prominent choices more likely possess us, insisting upon acceptance more than decisiveness. I have no actual decision to make regarding my Publishing work. It continues even when I'm distracted, for it's the natural extension of whatever I've already accomplished, who I already am. I might never arrive at any discernable destination, but I will keep moving forward and toward it without taking any additional choices. My die was cast so long ago now that I barely remember the time before I engaged. There's no longer any going backward or even any viable veering off this long-established path. I am whatever I am, and I do whatever it is that I do. I, perhaps like you, now live a life inexorable. I've traveled beyond the points where I was making choices. Having chosen, I must accept the fate that found me as my own. I might just as well be Rededicating my efforts to heading where I was already going. There's no place else to go.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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