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"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

I think of myself as a great proponent of folk wisdoms. They tend to be tricky, though, with unexpected nuance lurking behind what everyone automatically takes for granted by the five thousandth time they've heard it. Absence does seem to make the heart grow fonder, doesn't it? But this chestnut applies to more than separated lovers. I've noticed that the very best moment in the life cycle of any project tends to happen around the very start of the effort, when the outcome still seems glowy and perfect, before the accumulated disappointments and compromises have had their way with the originating big, bright idea. Before emerging knowledge had grounded the balloon. Nearer the end, familiarity tends to have bred considerable contempt, and by then even the early champions would drive a stake through the effort's heart, given half a chance.

TheFonderHeart might prove to be a tell, an indicator of considerable cluelessness.
The goal, secured within cloaks of unknowables at the beginning, easily attracts interest and support. Later, halfway there, tempered by experience, about as many will refuse to associate with it as remain supporting it. The skinned knees and funding over-reaches, evidence of growing knowledge and understanding, will have chased off all the fair weather associates and the fonder of the fondest hearts, leaving a more grim cadre to work through the remaining clues to solidify some result. The historians, observers poisoned by something more closely approaching full knowledge of what transpired will quite likely criticize more than praise the effort, perhaps publishing a Lessons Learned white paper which they might more accurately label Cluelessnesses Uncovered, expose-like.

Anticipation warms more reliability than hard-earned wisdom. That first morning setting out on the trip represents the peak experience of the whole excursion, before gravity has her way with the buoyant expectations. The best supper of the week tends to be the one I imagine creating while securing provisions the weekend before, when possibility blooms impossibly bright, before I've scorched the potatoes and overcooked those perfect French green beans. I can fully appreciate what I end up producing without elevating what it turned out not to be to the level of tragic shortcoming, still recognizing that the meal tasted a whole lot better before it was ever plated, when still no more than a fondly held possibility.

The moment I drove that new car off the lot, little shortcomings began emerging, leveling what I innocently mistook for perfection down closer to something more properly resident on our human plane. As our naive cluelessness evaporates, the depth of our fondness fades, too. I'm not going all depressive about this phenomenon, simply reflecting on how this world seems to operate. In the movies and in novels, these encouraging cluelessnesses seem capable of thriving and surviving without necessarily crumbling into more knowledgable dust. The dream-like state seems preserved there. Complications can be simply omitted without infringing on the experience, sometimes enhancing it into happily-ever-afters. We can be happily-ever-after here in the real world, too, though the happiness tends more toward the savory than the unrelenting sweet because the absence of knowledge makes the heart grow fonder, not the absence of cluelessness.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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