Rendered Fat Content


Edgar Degas: Waiting (c. 1880–1882)

"My juggling of the spaces in-between …"

Only one essential game exists: TheWaitingGame. This requisite game comes imbedded within every other game, within every occupation, whether it's considered a game or not. The one element of every engagement certain to appear before it's finished, TheWaitingGame seems anything but integral. It seems more like a waste, far worse than fallow, yet it certainly must be something other than mindless idleness. Why else would it appear universally, regardless of culture, regardless of time, age, or intelligence? The stupid receive their ration right along with the smarties. The handsome as well as the ugly, no exceptions granted. No exclusions.

My efforts to resurrect my songs and create a performable SetList feature much annoying idleness.
An innate sense informs me when the time is right and also when it isn't. A time exists for every purpose, apparently with ample time between those purposes, too. Whether that in-between time gets lost to the angels or repurposed into more than mere idleness might matter. Whether it matters depends upon how one chooses to play TheWaitingGame.

The Muse, for instance, has been reporting to the cancer center waiting room six times each week for the past five weeks. She rarely has to wait for more than a few spare minutes before a nurse appears to escort her back to the radiation chamber. She's returned in short order, and free to leave then, but she often bends over a particularly difficult jig saw puzzle which was barely started when her treatment began. A few odd minutes over five weeks, and that puzzle's almost finished. She declared at the start of this last week of radiation treatment that the puzzle would be finished before her treatment concluded. It looks as if she will have made that prediction come true.

Not all idle time can be so seemingly productively repurposed, if I may presume completing a puzzle qualifies as a productive use of idle time. The worst waiting occurs in rooms engineered to make that time more pleasant. They feature television that cannot be turned off, often tuned to Fox, and/or piped in music featuring some truly regrettable playlist. They might have magazines like Optometrist Quarterly which feature gory details of just the procedure you're waiting to endure. Us moderns carry our idleness in the form of our iPhones, a machine specifically designed to help us go instantly unconscious of our surroundings. Anyone staring into their phone achieves the state formerly exclusively experienced by hypnotized chickens and now common among every population of humans, except for the most "primitive."

Time passes regardless of how we employ it. It does not fit tightly together. It never has. The three months I allocated to complete preparing for my SetList performance is about half gone now. More than half the time I've spent preparing so far has been idle, or apparently so. At first, I tried to be careful with myself, easing into the engagement. Later, I felt a little lost so I pulled over to more deeply consider. TheWaitingGame has been an integral part of my preparation. I expect this experience to continue. It's a puzzle I'm solving here, one perhaps best engaged with sparingly, with huge spaces separating sharp focus. My juggling of the spaces in-between seems just as important as my mastery of the stuff they're separating.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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