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Thomas Cole: The Voyage of Life: Manhood (1842)
"I'm not even my own exemplar of how I should be living."

My life moves both too slowly and too quickly for me to in any way accurately experience it. In any moment, I'm very likely too present to perceive deeper meanings. Later, tearing myself away from focusing upon any present moment will likely distract me from perceiving whatever's going on around me then. I inhabit an endless swirl of impressions struggling to impart their significance. I live superficially by default, apparently incapable of fully inhabiting any fleeting moment and also struggling to wrest any deeper meaning in retrospect. I live Reprospectively, repossessing past experiences with my writing, with the expressed purpose that I might thereby more adequately prepare myself for what might be coming next. I seek patterns in my otherwise apparently random experiencing, hopeful that useful, maybe soothing stories might emerge, hopeful that I might have been there in lieu of ever actually being anywhere in any moment. I do not fancy that my experience differs very much from anyone else's. My meanings only ever emerge well after any fact and my facts remain at best questionable. My life might have been completely fictional. I cannot tell.

I employ my Friday mornings to focus myself upon attempting to make sense of each receding week's writing.
I set about each Friday to also begin generating data out of which the following Friday might make some sense. I produce each day's story admittedly blind to any destination. I most often catalogue some recent observation, with no regard for continuity between pieces. I strive to create each story separate and unique, though my end of each week Reprospective often finds threads of connection between them. I find these discoveries both curious and reassuring. However disconnected my experience going forward might have seemed, when looking back, clear threads appear just as if I'd intended to imbed them there. I could have chosen to author different kinds of stories, ones informed by prospective intention and intending to derive some preexisting meaning, maybe to infer that I possess some deeper understanding, but I seem somehow not quite clever enough to pull off such magic. I instead trudge on with varying degrees of faith that each emerging story might somehow represent some subtler insight and then-unknowable connection, ones I've clearly not yet discovered at the moment each story emerges; less writing about life than writing as if writing somehow might represent my living.

I recognize that my technique seems backward and sideways to the way one might properly choose to create, but my writing feels less a choice than an imperative, perhaps even a compulsion indistinguishable from some poorly buffered vanity. I have no reason to believe that anybody else, with the possible exception of The Muse, might in any way find interest in the result. My experience might not prove representative. It might be that nobody ever glimpses themselves in anything I've written. This story might stand here naked as a rare marsupial, a curiosity useless beyond a moment's diversion while passing through a zoo filled with much more interesting familiar animals. I can't know but can only suspect. I therefore dare not base my motivation to continue on any external judgement. I might be fortunate that my writing's largely compulsion, not needing reinforcing feedback from anyone but me, and should I ever I find my efforts wanting, my trusty compulsion will probably keep me writing anyway.

What meaning might I carry away from this week's efforts? The Muse and I were living out of boxes, the painters having left but with a kitchen countertop replacement impending. The kitchen, a largely unusable shell of itself. The usual living areas disordered and cluttered with overflowing boxes, we inhabited a three dimensional, life-sized game of Husker Du. Now where did I last spot the ladle hiding? Beneath what might that portion of the spice shelves now reside? We took to taking our take-out meals on TV trays and wearing our face masks like clerical collars as the place filled up with workmen further tearing apart this life. It seems clear that this life here along Colorado's Front Range is already a goner. We're half a foot absent already with the balance of our possessions and our lifestyle struggling to catch up. Final remnants of useless denial still exert definite influence, but we're clearly over the top of Mt. Acquiescence, fated for difference. Nothing but this little daily dalliance seems in any way the same, each morning insisting that I get up and engage in something clearly beyond my understanding. This habit seems the only thing keeping me sane, if my behavior even qualifies as sanity.

Life, besides simultaneously moving too fast and far too slowly, also seems to exist holographically. Each experience might hold the self-same significance of any other, of every other. Though I parse my actions into betters and worsts, each probably holds a curious equivalence. The snow drift blocking the kittens usual escape route out into the moonlit predawn darkness frustrates their efforts to exit this morning, but every early morning brings some similar barrier to their freedom. Some days, they overcome their innate skittishness and exit anyway. Other days, a snow drift decisively blocks their way. They seem to make up some alternate purpose on those mornings when their intentions cannot be satisfied, just like I seem to do with my writing, this story a perfect enough example of Reprospective in action. I'm not even my own exemplar of how I should be living.


I will remember this receding week as the beginning of the great InBetweening, neither entirely here anymore nor yet very there, a not unfamiliar no place of a place. Both here and there have much to promote themselves, but the shadowy middle ground might also prove fertile, though probably only when planted in small patches. Were we to find ourselves indeterminately in this place, we might have reason to hold valid complaints. The very worst sentences feature open-ended durations, each new morning holding promise and every evening delivering betrayal. We're suspended within a more or less certain duration. This, too, shall ultimately pass into meaninglessness, as every experience inevitably does unless some Reprospective somehow reanimates it.

I began my writing week by considering the apparently infinite activity of
Vacating, the week's most popular posting and I wasn't even present. "I pray that we might find the grace to forgive ourselves for what we knew not what we did. We're most certainly doing that to ourselves now."

I next attempted to head off further inquiry into my well-being by
Okaying. A few were offended at first that I might chose not to disclose how I was "really" feeling. "When rendered speechless, saying nothing never seems entirely appropriate, so we have, by long tradition, concocted an exchange certain to produce no harm, which thereby might produce some genuine healing." I'm Okaying, pending different.

I caught myself feeling especially put-upon, and treated this condition by worshipping at the alter of
Unexceptionalism, the sort of religion even I might find acceptable. "The distances separating us seem minuscule when compared with the vastnesses of the universe containing all of us."

My obligatory political screed of the week focused upon the caustic conditions created by cultures predicated upon
Lye-ing as their primary way of living. "Some substances effectively replace the benign with the poisonous such that one grows to lose their ability to live without their poison, and lying works precisely like this."

I then dredged up a little-respected principle of all projects, even our HeadingHomeward one,
Plausabling, the apparently innate human ability to find divine intervention lurking within otherwise tragedy. " … who would I have to become to deny divine intervention?"

I reflected on the role The Muse and I have been playing through our rapidly-ending exile in
ResidentAlien. "It's seemed that in order to become anybody we had to volunteer to become nobody, we just had to abandon our home country for some place different, inevitably worse."

I ended this writing week in abject celebration over the arrival of my first COVID inoculation in
JabberWonky. "The very best health care system in the world had occupied the meat department of a Safeway supermarket as the very best of all possible locations for dispensing this vaccine."

I expect this Prospective week to remind me that:

•I was not fully here anymore,
•my internal status remains my personal business,
•I'm unexceptional if not completely normal,
•I'm better off bearing accurate witness to my experience,
•I might well be divinely blessed, if only in my stories,
•I know how to survive even prolonged absences of my preferred contexts, and
•my greatest sense of individualism emerges when I'm collaborating with others to achieve something stunning.

I was unaware of all of this a scant week ago, but thanks to my arcane method for divining my futures, I might now never forget. Thank you for following along with these apparently aimless explorations. We're definitely HeadingHomeward now.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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