Rendered Fat Content


Elly Verstijnen: Jongen met pop [Boy With Doll] (c. 1900-1930)

"No one is ever apathetic except when in pursuit of another's objective."
-Folk Wisdom

"I feel unlikely to ever outgrow my worse bad habits."

So far, the most troubling successes of my life have uniformly been the kind I was supposed to want but didn't. These were often promoted as somehow being for my own good and uniformly seemed more for my certain detriment instead. I'd drag my feet because I could not muster enough motivation to manage any other response. In this way, I laid myself open to various criticisms. If only I could exhibit more discipline. If Onlies then seemed to utterly dominate my foreground. I always thought these experiences exemplified the pursuit of mammon and were trying to tell me to shift my focus from chasing something destined to do me in. This kind of wisdom almost always came later in the game, after investing more than I felt I could afford to lose. Veering off onto another, healthier trajectory always proved difficult to impossible.

It might be true that nobody ever knew what they were supposed to do.
I know some seem born suited for some occupation, but I suspect that even they carry some doubt about which ways they should turn. Almost everyone tries on a few different roles before discovering one that seems better suited to them and their preferences. Even determining personal preference suggests making a few disappointing choices before deciding, each one potential until rejected after tasting. This winnowing process hardly feels like success, and the false promises come to suck before they're dismissed. They're usually left because they come to suck, but one cannot always shift direction with anything like crisp agility. One makes innocent commitments not easily broken. As I said above, one invests, sometimes more than one believes one can forfeit. Changing courses can get complicated.

Somebody estimated that a significant percentage of the population works at jobs in which they feel less than delighted to find themselves. The free flow of labor presumes that people might freely choose to labor when many would rather engage in some form of play. Occupation then becomes a form of applied drudgery, engaged in daily, comprising a career. The inheriting son who never wanted to become the farmer into which his family indentured him. The single mom regained consciousness as an empty nester two decades later to wonder where her life went after taking a temporary job, only until through a crisis. I suspect that everyone experiences some sense of misbegottenness whatever they choose to do. I know that even I, who might have been unusually privileged in this regard, second guess my choices and wonder, on through the darker nights of my soul, if I didn't end up going in some really wrong direction. I suspect that imagination can always conjure up some troubling criticism, whatever choices one makes.

I'm interested here in wondering how one changes course once one recognizes that they've been chasing a false choice, one perhaps better suited to someone else, that has left one feeling apathetic. Apathy hardly seems the stuff of transformation, for it drains motivation. These course changes rarely consequently feel that motivating. One slinks between occupations, hoping nobody will notice the transition. One arrives poorly suited for whatever the new focus might demand. They will usually initially engage as if they were continuing what they'd already explicitly rejected, if only because it's what they already know how to do. They might even engage, unaware they continue the pattern they believed they had abandoned. I know that's how I've always initiated genuine transformation. I feel unlikely ever to outgrow my worse bad habits. Each of my successes has emerged from some earlier Suckcess I eventually rejected but never entirely abandoned.


Half Comprised of Suckcess
This writing week saw me successfully complete my SetTheory Series and initiate this Success Series. I'm as yet unconvinced this fresh series represents an improvement over its predecessor, but every series I've started first felt somewhat wrong. Each needed some growing into before they even felt like mine. Each, in its own unique way, eventually came to seem successful, but only after first appearing to suck. The road to anywhere is not paved with destination. Reward comes from dedication through times when the investment hardly seems worth it. Success might be more than half comprised of Suckcess. A certain tolerance seems expected.

Albrecht Dürer: The Monstrous Sow of Landser (1496)

I began my writing week considering
Patter, the punctuation a performer injects before and between their songs in performance. "Authentic performance often begins by simply reporting what is. "I feel a little shy sitting up here in front of you this evening. I'll probably get over it, but I might seem a little lost at first. Bear with me, please." They will."

Gaston La Touche: Pardon in Brittany (1896)
A "Pardon" is a Breton form of penitential pilgrimage
conducted at twilight with candles.

As I sidled up to finally delivering my long-pursued HouseConcert performance, I encountered a sense of
FinishingTouched. I'd needed the obligation to achieve anything. "Give me indenture or you might just as well give me death."

Adriaen van Ostade: The Concert (1644)

I delivered my long-sought *
HouseConcert and the universe warmly embraced the event. This story was by far the most popular one this period. "It seemed as though the universe had charted and managed to navigate an intricate course, which brought us together."

Winslow Homer: After the Hurricane, Bahamas (1899)

Once I'd delivered my promised HouseConcert, I was left asking myself What Next? in my SetTheory's
AfterMath. "Great successes seem to spawn great questions like expanding knowledge seems to encourage even more inquiry. "

Paul Gauguin: Manao tupapau:
(She Thinks of the Ghost or The Ghost Thinks of Her),
the Noa Noa Suite (1893/94)

I noted almost being finished with my SetTheory Series by declaring a
PerfectEnding before I was finished. "That Perfect holds an infinite definition should not worry anyone, for our purpose is never to get to the bottom of our inquiry, but to more fully immerse ourselves within it. "

Paul Gauguin: Soyez amoureuses, vous serez heureuses
[Love, and You Will Be Happy]
, (1899)

I ended my SetTheory Series reflecting on the necessity of pursuing
Impossibles. "There's really nothing like a fresh impossible to lend purpose and vigor to the human experience."

Thérèse Schwartze: Portrait of Lizzy Ansingh (1902)

I began a new series, one I called Success, and started it by considering my own
SuccessStory. "It almost seems now as though some horse actually knew the way I was supposed to be heading, regardless of the game I believed that I was playing, and that each apparent shortcoming, each experienced failure, was steadily advancing me along some unsuspected course which, with very likely undeserved grace, deposited me here in my later years, feeling satisfied. My path to personal success was paved with a continuing sense of failure; that and the abiding sense of impending catastrophe."

And so another writing week starts fading into the distance. This week brought some genuine, unadulterated Success to this writer's efforts. He managed to achieve something that felt genuinely significant. It was a bed of roses hardly absent thorns. Though I should know better, I speculate that the preceding Suckcesses sweeten the eventual successes. As I experienced this week, the Impossibles influenced The PerfectEnding's emergence. Was it not always thus?

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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