Rendered Fat Content


Claude Monet: Caricature of a Man with a Big Cigar (1855/56)

I lose myself sometimes, a most curious and disturbing situation. I do not remember anyone ever tipping me off to even the vaguest possibility that I might at times misplace myself, but I have. I most often lose myself when I engage so deeply in some activity that I forget I'm there, not in any way a disturbing happenstance. I sometimes try to lose myself in the interest of experiencing what some have labeled 'flow,' but trying to lose one's self rarely works. It seems that selves must slip off all by themselves, unnoticed. It might be that one cannot notice the absence of themself while they are missing. Who would be noticing if the self was gone?

My effort to create a SetList might be my attempt to reconnect with a part of myself lost in the process of living my life.
I have not lost all of myself, but I sense a definite absence of a part I once noticed daily, indeed, one I most readily recognized as me. That part set me apart from others and left me feeling unique. It sometimes embarrassed me in public, in the way that an adolescent might blush when forced to go out with his family. I have denied who I was more than once to authorities, hoping I might pass unnoticed and unharassed. Sometimes I prayed for invisibility and my prayers were answered. I have rarely prayed for notoriety yet sometimes received it anyway.

My songs were never my identity though they were and continue to be evidence of my passage. I possess them and they, in turn, possess me back in symbiotic solidarity. They are my mantras, my meditations, my solace. They provide the soundtrack and cadence, the sometimes reassurance, the relevance. When distanced from them, I feel hollow, by which I mean I almost cease feeling. A great and disturbing numbing overtakes me. I call in my performance without feeling very present. As near as I can tell from here, this condition can easily continue for years, until I encounter some kind of wrinkle in my presence and rediscover what I'd been missing. Sometimes I set about deliberately searching, though such searches seem destined to disappoint, the searcher himself being missing in action or inaction.

Some suggest that any creative act amounts to a search for self, and I'm in no position to argue for or against their point. I know from my own experience that once I finish a piece, be that a story or a song, or even a bit of iffy house painting, I sense myself more present. Indeed, I often don't notice myself present until just after I finish creating something. This sometimes gets me wondering just who it was that created that thing, anywho. If Selfless engagement wrote this story, who wrote it? I suspect this morning that my effort to create this SetList serves as a backhanded means for finding myself, a self who'd gone missing and who cannot be directly sought. I must employ surrogate means to conjure up the boy, and this list seems likely to lure him in if he's even still out there. I had been wondering if I might have outgrown that talent, that interest, if it might have been a younger man's game and not for anyone exiting middle age to play. I'll see, I guess. If I succeed in creating that list and actually perform the resulting set, I guess I will have mustered up that part of me that had been missing, as unlikely as any of that seems from here.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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