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Honoré Daumier: The Third-Class Carriage (c. 1856–1858)
"Everything matters unless it doesn't."

SettlingInto eventually becomes a matter of SettlingUpon. The Muse has not quite settled upon the color palette she wants and the repainting cannot commence until then. I remain unsettled about several possible undertakings, so they're not started yet. As our SettlingInto has continued, the volume of SettlingUpons has grown. Dozens of little decisions define our way forward from here. We've successfully landed here but have yet to fully find our land legs. We're still a little wobbly, our way of living still emerging. Much remains unsettled and, indeed, unsettling so far. The SettlingInto might never end, but its infinity will most certainly be punctuated with a series of SettlingUpons. One day—not today, probably not tomorrow, but some day—these projects we've been envisioning forever will be over. Then we will have settled upon much. While our imaginations might have envisioned first class accommodations, we'll very likely settle for third-class passage and even manage to feel smug about our fortune, largely because we will have chosen, which makes a definite difference.

Deciding, though, proves challenging. I've long contended that choice serves as my chief superpower, if only because when I'm stymied, I can always at least choose again.
My tenacious insistence upon not making necessary choices often serves to stymie me in the first place. Even a damned-if-I-do choice can prove liberating if only because it injects a fresh possibility for difference. I would much rather die at the hand of a stranger than at the hand of a friend, so choosing difference seems necessary. Dying's nothing like choosing paint color, though I feel surprised by just how consequential even small decisions can seem. I wrote about how I struggle with placing plants in the garden. I happily prepare the soil, then seem to stall when facing the where-to-place-the-plants decision, which seems so permanent in comparison. The back steps hold two flats of Impatiens which have been pleading for permanent placement for a month. They're The Muse's plants but she and I have an ongoing low-level disagreement about their eventual placement. We have not quite yet settled upon a decision, by which I mean that we're still SettlingUpon one.

SettlingUpon seems a defensive stance. It feels like the last chance to hold off before something becomes forever. All the sins from past remodelings have fueled our aspirations going forward, but once we start moving in a definite direction, the remodeling sins will be ours and future generations'. Whatever palette The Muse decides upon will eventually go out of fashion and seem primitive and short-sighted. No one ever successfully foresees their future, but SettlingUpon drives definite stakes into that shifting ground. Even if we won't be around to witness the eventual downfall, I imagine that our souls, or whatever might be left of us, will sense the criticism. While we're still SettlingUpon, we're still secure, still actively aspiring but not yet complicity committing. SettlingUpon will eventually resolve into concrete choices, made and done, and then move forward as a series of settled upons. SettlingInto should properly continue forever.

In a scant quarter of a year, we've gone from HeadingHomeward through SettlingInto, to this point right here this morning. Later this evening, the summer solstice arrives and by long tradition, I must find a different mission, a different focus for my writing. We might well be SettlingInto here forever, but, thank heavens, that activity should turn from epic engagement into background noise, no longer our primary focus. My challenge, which comes every time I change focus, lies in foreseeing what I might be up to next. I'm writing in real time, not in reflection, so I cannot plan the plot ahead of time, outline it, then follow my plan. It might be true that the topic doesn't matter because whatever happens might comfortably sit beneath any label. HeadingHomeward, SettlingInto, what does it really matter? Still, I firmly believe (which means I have no data to support this belief, I just believe it) that even the more inconsequential choices matter and might well be worth some deliberate SettlingUpon before proceeding. If it feels as though I live a life of little consequence, that feeling might simply be the resonance of my not treating the trivial with adequate respect. Everything matters unless it doesn't. SettlingUpon should proceed slowly because legacy results, and legacies always matter.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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