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John Vachon: Migrant fruit workers,
Berrien County, Michigan

" … I'd be hard-pressed not to confess …"

Problem solver that I strive to be, I too easily neglect to appreciate how things already are or already seem to be. I too easily see what's missing while peering right through whatever might be sitting there before me. I consequently miss my full share of opportunities to appreciate what I have. I see that my lawn needs mowing more than I perceive I even have a lawn that's mostly still growing despite or in defiance of the summer sun burning at it like a blowtorch. How fortunate that it hasn't gone to weeds, that I still have something to need something from me. I see the unfinished chores queue before I notice all I've accomplished. I pressure myself to keep pressuring myself when I might kick back instead.

My sensitivity to absences seems self-destructive.
My prehistoric ancestors might have required the ability to see what was missing, to imagine threats before they became threatening. Still, I doubt my survival depends on constantly sensing what's not even there. I admit that when I notice something missing, I can step in like a superhero in Spandex® (block that metaphor!) and plug the hole, but this seems like so much frippery. I could instead just let whatever's absent remain out of the picture or at least consider the vacant part as a piece of the already-existing whole. Not so much a hole to be filled as a beginning to finish, appreciating the context more than amplifying the absence.

When I sit down to write most mornings, I do not feel at all like a writer. I sense the absence of what I still need to finish as if I would forfeit my experience if I failed to complete that morning's assignment. My catalog of completed stories means nothing in the face of that tremendous daily absence. My talents remain unproven until and unless I can prove them again, regardless of how many prior successes I might have earned. I'm only ever as good as my next completion and much, much worse for its absence. Is this what I use for motivation? Psychological deprivation?

I feel silly even mentioning this shortcoming. There was a time, earlier in my existence when I spent most of my time striving, trying to accomplish something, focusing upon whatever I might manifest next. I learned then to live in the future, just as if this was ever even possible. I sometimes tried to live in the past instead, with little better results. This is the future I once strived for, however short or long on actual accomplishment it entails. It has the benefit of being present, of having already fully manifested. While it features, as every past future has, some serious shortcomings, if pressed to describe its more prominent feature, what it holds, I'd be hard-pressed not to confess that this seems RightEnough, whatever's missing.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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