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Jean-Siméon Chardin:
Self-Portrait with a Visor (c. 1776)

" … my fair share of nothing much at all."

However Successful I might have otherwise become, I might always remain most Successful as a SelfSaboteur. I undermine my intentions in at least ten thousand shifting ways, rarely precisely the same way twice. I head myself off and detour my own progress. I discourage myself like a master chef fillets a salmon, one clean cut, and my courage pulls free, leaving exposed flesh. I can be critical. I become distracted. I shift my priorities so my heart's most fervent desire can't find itself on my schedule. I fritter most mornings away. I go to bed early and rise even earlier until I swear I can find no time to accomplish anything. Most of my life has always seemed to be pending, idling, waiting for something. In all these things and many more, I count myself most Successful.

Success, though, real Success hardly requires much excess time or talent.
It often emerges from the stingiest investments. It need not become anyone’s sole obsession or full-time occupation. One might comfortably dabble in Success and still experience an excess of it. Cups of it routinely runneth over. Achieving it need not necessarily become an onerous struggle. Such struggles can take the joy out of experiencing it, rendering it less welcome, more of a burden. For me, the trick might usually be simply getting out of my own way. My SelfSaboteur need not usually be all that clever. My Successful self need not, either. Most of my Successes have been downhill races rather than onerous uphill ones. I face open fields and just need to run. Overthinking's my Achilles Heel.

My SelfSaboteur much prefers working in the dark. He'd much rather I not notice his presence. He thrives when I'm mindless, when I'm not watching, during my frequent lapses of attention. I cannot easily will him into existence; quite the opposite. When my will seems weak, he peaks. When I'm distracted, he's most active. I never know until later that he's broken into the place and upended my larder. Then, not only have I undermined what I might have accomplished, but I also find a fresh mess demanding my attention, further separating me from actually accomplishing anything. I could employ myself full time, just cleaning up after my own inadvertencies, my more deliberate unintendeds. The work of the SelfSaboteur can never become completely done. It seems there's always something needing encumbering.

If I were the type to dispense advice, this paragraph would be precisely the place to position it, after the middle, just before the finish. I have no advice for myself, though. I do not know what to do with my SelfSaboteur. I suppose I might accept him, his stealthy presence, his questionable presents. He might have helped prevent me from completing something dangerous and thereby avoid self-destruction. Even the roads to ruin might help one avoid alternative self-destructions. I long ago decided that I would never attempt to run my SelfSaboteur out of my life. I suspected that he, too, might qualify more as a feature than as an authentic problem. He annoys me, sure, but his presence also feels familiar. He's a member of this ensemble, if not necessarily in the best of standing. He performs most of his magic backstage, well away from spotlights and prying eyes. Heck, I suspect that few ever even suspected that I had one of those. How else was I ever supposed to Successfully accomplish my fair share of nothing much at all or less?

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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