Rendered Fat Content


Jacob van Ruisdael:
Landscape with the Ruins of the Castle of Egmond (1650/55)

" … face being all grown up …"

Contrary to how I might appear to any naive observer, I have not quite grown up yet. I experience moments of maturity, sometimes stretching into full afternoons or evenings of it, but I remain capable off Reverting to earlier releases of myself with little provocation. Last evening, chopping garlic for supper, I sliced into a fingertip with the extra sharp chef's knife and instantly reverted back into a five year old child. I yelled for The Muse while rushing into the small bathroom off the kitchen where I grabbed a handful of Kleenex® and whimpered. I became essentially helpless for the balance of the evening. The Muse had to finish prepping the supper I had almost managed to finish preparing, even though it was clearly my evening to assemble supper. The Muse clucked over me, suggesting that I might need stitches, while I switched out tissues and waited for the worst of the bleeding to stop.

I felt inconsolable inside. No amount of care could have erased that error.
I would have to grow back up into myself again. No guitar playing for the next week. Frequent bandage changes, too, since my hands sweat when I'm wearing my vinyl painting gloves. I feel as though I've reverted back into a pupae state, pre-ambulatory, a baby again. It never takes much. It usually requires no more than a surprise assault, a small brick wall I hadn't seen coming, anything, really, which might suddenly prevent continuing forward. I first feel shocked, experiencing a wounded ego which hadn't deserved the insult. I separate myself from the rest of humanity to cower alone, as defenseless as I feel.

I do not reserve this reaction solely for physical wounds. Psychological insults can produce identical results. I get mopey. I separate myself just as if I were stanching blood. I cower, defensive, suspicious of my surroundings, especially of anyone who might volunteer assistance. I seem to need to isolate myself then, as if nobody could possibly prove trustworthy, maybe even especially including me. It might be that I'm Reverting to the sparest instance of self then, one which existed before that latest insult, back when the world seemed as innocent as I felt, before credible threats existed. I will nurture myself back into adulthood there, isolated and mending. I might rejoin civilization again once I feel strong enough to handle it.

My skin seems remarkably thin. I am a parody of resilience. I will probably never outgrow my Reverting response. Retreating seems to have become my first defense, my primary strategic reaction. I suspend my own habeas corpus. I do not want to appear before any judge, sympathetic or not. I need some time to reconnect to time, that flow so rudely disrupted. I cannot quite be myself for a moment, maybe longer. I might appear to be the same person you so recently saw standing before you, but my trajectory, my presence, changed in the flick of that knife. I disappeared and I will not rematerialize again until I do not know when, when I've finished Reverting, when I'm done feeling wounded, when I can once again face being all grown up again. Not until then.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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