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Rhythmia

rhythmia
歌川国芳 (Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798 - 1861): Cats suggested as The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō
" … the effort hardly feels like working …"

Each new beginning seems to induce an arrhythmia of sorts, a break in the accustomed cadence and flow. The new pace might be sought, even insisted upon, but the first few clicks will lack some essential, though I'm unlikely to be able to describe what. Something will be missing and my world will feel off kilter. I won't know precisely what's wrong or what to do about the apparent imbalance, other than to simply soldier through it. Then, of course, I'm soldiering rather than performing and even I notice that difference. I get to wondering what happened to my once relatively effortless performance and why every damned thing I touch requires almost superhuman effort. I know, of course, but knowing, if anything, just makes the situation seem worse because if I can diagnose, why can't I resolve? I know I've lost my rhythm, my Rhythmia, but never really knew how I'd found it before. I'm tempted to suggest that I never once before ever found it, but that it exclusively found me. I wonder if it might ever find me again or if I've somehow stepped off the world I'd always known, doomed now to move without a backbeat, without a cadence.

Then one afternoon, the Rhthmia returns, at first unnoticed.
A subtle flow overtakes my frustrated self, so recently forcing myself into compliance, finishing my work, and I suddenly notice that it doesn't seem so much like work anymore. It's easier all of a sudden and I won't connect the dots to root out a cause until later, reflecting upon what happened. I'd found, through the previous summer and into the fall, the rhythm of the massive refurbishment effort we somehow accomplished. I remember struggling for those first few weeks to match the suddenly accelerating cadence that work brought. I'd known for ages that one key to successfully engaging had always been finding the natural rhythm of the job, and that each job even carries such a thing. The general prescription insists that one simply must find the rhythm of the effort and try to match it. Best case, or maybe just the usual case, once discovered, such rhythms tend to be easily matched. The rhythm entrains the observant and like an ear worm cadence, one can hardly not march to its beat. It had not really occurred to me before that the Rythmia might find me and not the other way around.

I began this Authoring series thinking it a natural extension of my already well-entrained writing practice, but it wasn't. This misclassification amounts to a usual case of the normals. Few seem to properly intuit the pace of any new undertaking, and we seem to survive the first few steps being out of step. We seem to skip along like a soldier trying to recatch the steps, having somehow lost the designated left, right, left for a minute.

In high school, I was once drafted into playing the bass drum for a big ROTC ceremony. Brass flew in from Ft Lewis in Huey helicopters, landing on the practice football field, and the assembled legions marched in formation to present arms. I'd never played a bass drum before. I wasn't even enrolled in ROTC, but I tucked my hair up into that unaccustomed headgear and set to whacking that tummy drum for all I was worth. What my recruiter perhaps hadn't considered and I just didn't know, was that the bass drummer essentially ran the whole show, for he, and he alone, determined the cadence of the operation. Me? I was just beating a drum.

I learned afterwards that I'd sort of fast marched the troops through the whole ritual. I played a few beats faster than the standard pace and some general from Ft Lewis noticed. How embarrassing for the school and for the troops. I received a stern talking to, one of those failing to fix the past lectures which wouldn't fix any future either. I managed to keep a stern and solemn face until I escaped. Then, I retold the story until I went blue in the face. I guess I'm still retelling it today, but for a different purpose. I might have yesterday (finally!) glimpsed the cadence better suited to this Authoring series, the tasks and activities I seem to need to engage in to move further toward becoming an author again. I noticed the Rhythmia catching me as certainly as my bass drumming had caught that ROTC legion. I feel like Molière's The Bourgeois Gentleman discovering that I've been speaking in prose all along, without me ever suspecting that I was prosaic. Once connected to the rhythm of this work, and reconnected to the rhythm proper for this work, the effort hardly feels like working at all.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved







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