Rendered Fat Content


Ohara Koson: Geese and the Moon (Early 20th century)
"Hasten home slowly. This ending's just begun."

I suspect a cultural imperative if not an innate human tendency at work, the one encouraging people who paid fifty bucks a ticket to leave the game in the middle of the seventh inning to, as they might claim, "beat the traffic." One might beat the traffic better by lingering until well after the game ends, until the parking lot's emptier, but that tactic seems to violate that imperative or tendency. Even at big games and popular concerts, where tickets cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, one sees some percentage of the audience RushTheExit before the event even ends. We might become lemmings, ready to follow others' leads to our own demise whenever an ending threatens. The end will come but we seem to want our endings on our own terms and so we rush them. Our Grand Refurbish has been threatening to end for a fortnight now, but once it started throwing off serious intimations, progress stalled. Joel Our Carpenter came down with something that kept him off the job for a week after supply issues added a few days to our imaginary timeline, both conspiring to add tension to the conclusion. What operated as a relatively care free enterprise for months has become a pain in the butt to live with and I feel more than ready to simply wash my hands of whatever's left. I ache for doneness.

Such conditions might breed disaster, for they erode the patience which has thus far fueled our forward progress.
I sense that we must become even more deliberate now to counteract our real potential to undermine ourselves and RushTheExit. I read years ago that most serious traffic accidents occur less than twenty-five miles from home, the implication being that we might lose some attention as we reenter familiar territory. I can relate to this notion. I tend to arrive back home tuckered from driving and I know that my exhaustion erodes my ability to drive. I'm ready to give it up for the last half hour or so of the trip, and I grit my teeth and more firmly grip the wheel until I'm home. I might expend more discipline during that last period than I exerted through the whole rest of the trip, hours and hours of it. Those last few minutes feel like dog minutes in my hands, each one weighing as much as seven or more regular ones.

The issue, I suspect, might be an encroaching self-consciousness. Most of Our Grand Refurbish was spent unconscious, entranced by the challenge. I was engaged in work I only rarely if ever perform and I felt entranced by a sense of adventure. I felt responsible and patient and properly positioned. Then the work devolved into repetition with little variation, and while I'd clearly mastered some tasks, my attention span sort of collapsed along with my interest. I felt as though I was moving in concentric circles. The months of early morning starts and late finishes and the unrelenting clutter and dust wore me down. Ready for something different, I too easily discount the final part, which might end up being the pièce de résistance of the whole affair. I write this morning to remind myself how people can get trampled if they RustTheExit, to wind my watch (which never needs winding), to slow myself down and be present, and to not get too awfully far ahead of myself. Nothing's gained by crossing any finish line before completing the race and that last furlong exists as if to try patience and everything else. Swallow hard.

The most important things tend to come at the least convenient times. This means that inconvenience might serves as a reliable tell when something most important happens. That urge to RushTheExit might be urgent not as a cue to get moving but as a reminder to linger longer, to hasten more slowly, emphatically. The Ancient Romans were said to have insisted that one must hasten slowly at the beginning of projects to counteract the human tendency to go off half-cocked, but I'd never heard them advise the same when exiting, but the advice makes perfect sense now that I'm hovering in the looming shadow of an impending end. I just want it over with enough space between done and Christmas that we might erect the tree and feel as if we're home for Christmas this year at last. But we dare not rush it lest we engineer some half-assed disaster which could linger longer than any impending ending. The end will come on little cat's feet and not as a grand stampede. We have no traffic to beat. We might just as well stay in our seats until the game's really over. We dare not rush the result or we'll forfeit our purpose. Hasten home slowly, son. This ending's just begun.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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