Gustave Courbet: The Painter's Studio: A real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life (L'Atelier du peintre) (1855)
" … just a form of confirmation I was then too naive to accept."

No amount of even the most diligent study would have ever turned me into an astronaut, a result which blesses more than curses us all. From my now lofty perspective, poised as I now am upon the tail end of my existence here, it's becoming ever clearer to me that there might have been some curious pre-destiny involved in determining who and what I would become, that it was never, even for a moment, an open book or a matter of studious diligence. The writing might have seemed much clearer had I understood how very near I had always been to whatever I might become. I was apparently never destined to become President, even though that possibility was early on promised me as a birthright American baby, where anyone might become whatever they muster the will to imagine themselves becoming. I knew early on that I would never become one of those gas station mechanics with an embroidered Dave on my shirtfront, or a cop, or an electrical engineer. It was never nearly as clear who I might become as it was who I never would end up being.

My studies, such as they were, disclosed whispers. I knew what could hold my attention and what induced a coma, though my teachers ascribed a lack of dedication to my more obvious shortcomings, as if an additional ounce or two of diligence might make a real difference.
I consequently learned to chew on myself as if I could somehow undermine my own potential by the preconscious application of indifference or through simple inattention. I suspect that these explanations better served my teachers, who could stand blameless if I failed to make muster. If I'd only paid closer attention to my homework, they seemed to insist, I wouldn't have made such a hash of it. My memory seemed selective, as if only certain kinds of information could pass through the mesh surrounding my consciousness. Any obvious irrelevance simply slipped away, no matter how many times I tried to shove it through.

I believe that it's true that study might result in altering one's manner of thinking. Nobody's born with an intuition for any derived system. These simply must be learned, and often painstakingly. Yet I also believe that a certain attraction must exist for even great persistence to ever succeed. Ten thousand iterations of any meaningless operation produces only meaninglessness. An opening attraction renders inquisitiveness' potential. Indeed, any inquisition seems to demand at least this much. It otherwise never amounts to much. Most learning still terrifies me. It threatens my admittedly flimsy personal reality. I long ago constructed a story which more or less worked for me, and I'm much more likely to defend that tale than surrender it. My world stands as a testament to the effects of Scholarshit. I more learned what I learned than what I was ever instructed about.

I gratefully never stood for any certification examination. I never joined any qualifying professional organization, or really wanted to. I knew the truth about myself, that I'd not successfully absorbed what everyone was supposed to assimilate, and could not therefore regurgitate the acknowledged straight story. I understood the benefits gained from certifying professionals—doctors, lawyers, and such—and this understanding effectively disqualified me from ever becoming one. My nature seemed to prevent such an emergence, and I knew it. In my once unending battle between nature and nurture, my nature seemed to win. I'm all in on that decision now.

I'd lobby strongly in favor of a year or two or three suspending diligent study, somewhere between high school and any higher education. This period might be focused upon gaining a deeper appreciation of one's own nature, lest that be smothered by well-intended nurturing. I never trusted anyone who seemed certain of what they wanted to be when they finally grew up. I somewhere became sort of convinced that nobody ever actually grows up, though some seem better able to convince themselves that they did. I see plenty of holes in their arguments, and few who didn't grow to become what they always were beforehand, before trying to change the world while failing to change themselves. I surrendered the struggle to become somebody else once I realized the utter hopelessness of that effort. When I finally graduated from University, I realized that I'd grown no smarter through that ordeal, for it seemed more dedicated to dumbing me down for the purpose of more properly socializing me. I had known who I would become since before I started school, but had lived in abject denial through decades of serious Scholarshit. I just didn't understand how to get on with it, so I felt compelled to distract myself a bit. That algebra always confused me and made no sense, was just an unrecognized form of confirmation I was then too naive to accept.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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