SquarePeg


"a breath of breeze through glistening trees."

I think of myself as a square peg. Always have. Likely always will. I seem to thrive only in bespoke contexts, ones custom made to house my particular eccentricities. When someone asks me who I am, I think to myself, "What an exquisitely impossible question to answer." However I might search the standard stereotype archive, I seem to come up empty-handed. Even constructing an N-dimensional Venn diagram of overlaps seems simply impossible, resulting only in odd lot, ant/elephant combinations, almost but not entirely unlike whatever I might reference within it. My favorite response has usually been, "David," which, of course, amounts to no response at all, for we live in a time immersed in BIG 'I' Identity, where to fail to identify with at least one of the more popular stereotypes renders one essentially irrelevant. It's as if the 'I' in identity must associate with an even larger 'O' in Others for an individual to be considered even relevant.

It's a fine paradox, and one complicit in much of the depressively low self-esteem floating around society. If I am not you, or at least an awful lot like you, why should you like me?
Likes seem associative, more often bestowed, it seems, on similarities than on differences. A vote for them serves as a vote for myself, thereby bolstering my presence while also reinforcing theirs. Diversity be damned. The search for relevance drives a sort of herd behavior, rejecting the novel as Minnesota Nice "Interesting," which translates into a guttural Ewwwwwww in the common tongue. The very best complement some of my parents' friends could muster about me when I was twenty was a rather wistful, "Well, at least he keeps that hair clean," with a deafening subvocal "unlike most of his filthy kind" poorly hidden underneath.

Why did I write THAT essay? Nobody ever asked. They might presume that I sought relevance, that I certainly must have written to garner to the expectations of some specific audience. How could it be otherwise? One serious side-effect of the consumer culture seems to have been that relating gets framed in terms of transactional authority, as if we're all seeking to please some customer and to attract ever more customers, for the obvious purpose of satisfying ourselves through satisfying them. Square Pegs seems incapable of leveraging this calculus, for in a world seemingly supplanted with round holes, the search for audience, for relevance, seems simply irrelevant.

If not the adoration of crowds, what keeps a Square Peg going? I struggle to explain this aspect, for I'm uncertain if even I, a SquarePeg of longstanding, understand any alternative. SquarePeg-ness never seemed to be a choice, like round-pegness never really manifested itself in any realizable form. The desire to fit in eventually, after decades of fruitless effort, wears away to reveal the sharp-edged, Hard Rock Maple material within. It is just what it is. Then, the striving might relent to allow mere expression through. No sharp elbows needed to nudge through the crowd, no lingering expectations for popularity, no identity tangled up trying to identify with relevance. Relevance no longer enters into consideration.

What moves me to speak today? What might move me in the shadow or sunlight of a certain confidence that nobody will be listening, that nobody might hear? I am here, which maybe should be enough motive. I might not be anywhere where I might validate anything or anyone, including myself. It might be that you've stumbled upon a penitent man mumbling on his knees on an isolated trail, his words perhaps meant for nobody's ears but his own, and maybe not even for his own ears, either. He's releasing his otherwise inexpressible feelings into the world lest he explode. He's not representing a movement or an ideology, but a breath of breeze through glistening trees, whether or not anyone else identifies with him.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus