Rendered Fat Content


Thomas Hart Benton: City Activities with Dancehall
from America
Today mural (detail), 1930–31

" … this universe appears to be self-correcting …"

I imagine this to be a self-correcting universe. I suspect that this notion comes from the inescapable fact that nobody really has the slightest influence over this universe's trajectory and that most of its business occurs on scales which could never have the slightest direct effect on anybody. It's a continuously playing movie which never once repeats but which appears so uniform as to appear familiar. My plans might not always come to fruition, but among the infinite alternative resolutions, at least one workable substitute very reliably seems to show up. Eventually. The net effect seems to be an infinite engagement in which I for some reason choose to involve myself in finite segments, some of which do not work out but for those that don't work out, I receive a Reprieve. An alternative appears to, if not precisely save the day, preserve potential.

That's not to say that I've never been disappointed.
I've been disappointed plenty, and discouraged, and remorseful, but my fretting has yet to mark the finish of anything significant when viewed at a distance. Up close, things can seem awfully personal. Step back a ways, and other stories emerge, and other songs. This week, the changing April weather prevented Our Carpenter Joel and I from pouring concrete to finish creating that footing for the new garage back wall. It was a small delay, five days, and it will not materially influence the finished product, or so it seems from here within the disrupted middle. It could be, I suppose, that something between now and done could prevent this little project from finishing. I wonder what might emerge as resolution instead, for something always seems to step in with a replacement, though sometimes the proffered replacement hardly seems adequate. Nature abhors unfinished business and vacuums.

I think of these disruptions as Repreving and I imagine them saving me from a fate if not precisely worse than death, at least better than predictable living. My careers were punctuated with little and sometimes huge disruptions, missed connections, disconnections. Moments when I could not for the life of me comprehend where I might go next, when the story seemed to just be over and my part in its continuance retired. My story took an unexpected turn. Reprieving took over. Months of effort focused upon making some critical connection which in the end never came to fruition. A missed meeting, a cancelled flight, a misunderstanding and that critical something couldn't happen. These never felt like Reprieving when they occurred.

I suspect that I dread more than most people, that I some days hope and pray that my story won't continue to be the way I've expected, that my continuity might be disrupted. I dread these experiences while secretly hoping they visit, because I never feel more alive and more like myself than when I'm attempting to recover from some unanticipated swerve in my story. When traveling, those disruptions that always seem to happen, those ones that some react to as if to a tragedy—lost luggage, cancelled flights, missing reservations—I accept as acts of Reprieving that the universe injects to keep the story interesting. Not one of us ever really knows what's coming next. Fortunately, this universe appears to be self-correcting, or self-correcting enough if perceived from certain angles.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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