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Vasily Kandinsky: Improvisation No. 30 (Cannons) (1913)

" … results that I still feel certain anyone can see through."

Each fresh task seems to carry a certain SurfaceTension which I must penetrate before I can fully engage. While the act of penetrating that tension might look like I'm engaging, it seems much more tentative than that, as if whatever effort I expend breaking through that barrier doesn't count. Indeed, that work often seems a distraction, an irrelevance. It seems to prevent me from getting started rather than an integral part of starting. I very often find myself stymied by these initiation rituals in precisely the same way that I often cannot determine how to open a package or penetrate the bullet-proof plastic shell covering a new purchase. I cannot open these things with bare hands. Scissors usually prove useless, too. I most often submit these to The Muse for resolution, since she seems to have developed specialized strategies for opening these. I most often prefer to just set them aside as not having been designed for my use. I'm easily discouraged.

I reflect on my academic career, such as it was.
It mostly taught me the futility of trying to break through SurfaceTension, for each fresh subject came surrounded by impenetratables. Each fresh subject came imbedded within a hostile shell. The first challenge was always to figure out how to somehow penetrate that barrier. I was not always successful, and even when I'd manage to squeak in, I'd pass with my misgivings intact, certain only that I'd missed something, haunted by that absence. Self confidence would never thrive in such an environment, and I often wondered why no class focused upon at least acknowledging the existence of this prominent barrier to learning anything. We pretended instead, that the SurfaceTension didn't exist and that any student should be able to pass into and through any subject unharrassed, when as near as I could tell from my experience, the SurfaceTension troubled everyone attempting to pass into and through it.

As I work through my emerging SetList, I encounter new SurfaceTension, too. The fact that I once mastered each tune does not seem to inhibit the appearance of fresh SurfaceTension I must work my way through when reentering each piece. I'm not always successful in propelling myself through, and might abandon an attempt for a day, discouraged by the utter frustration encouraged by the effort. I see that I still have little resilience, that the old familiar plastic shells still serve as effective barriers, and that I have only ineffective tools for breaking through them. These barriers, though, remain mine alone to penetrate. I cannot hand any of these over to The Muse to work her magic on. They remain mine alone. I pray for divine intervention because I'm freshly aware of just how unprepared I remain to ever move through and beyond even the least of them.

My university offered me a scholarship to continue my studies if I would agree to teach some sections, but I couldn't see how I could help my students penetrate their SurfaceTensions. I had not conquered my own, and while I managed to earn a degree, it was not because I ever once felt that I'd achieved anything like mastery over these preliminary barriers or, indeed, any subject. I'd employed the equivalent of a screwdriver or something equally poorly suited to render each barrier less effective, almost always with shards of it still sticking to me as I passed into and through each subject. My entries always seemed so illegitimate, producing Imposter Syndrome results that I still feel certain anyone can see through. I'm faking it. I never wasn't. My academic career, such as it was, never mentioned this SurfaceTension. I'm really noticing it now.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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