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Alfred Stieglitz: Dorothy True (1919)

"I must tell my stories or else …"

It's always seemed unlikely to me that I might ever Successfully meet any challenge. I tend to start with a glass already half empty or, more often, no glass at all with which to address the challenge. I eventually discovered my adequacies lurking in eternally unexpected places and that I almost always proved capable of Success, however impossible it had earlier seemed. I suspect a lesson lurking to be discovered in there, but I hope it's not an obvious one. I despise finding out that I've been seeing right through some prominent something, the last one in the room to finally acknowledge what everyone else long ago perceived. It peeves me. It might be true, though, that I was never nearly as inadequate as I felt. I could have always interpreted those sensations as representing something else besides my inadequacies, whatever that might have been. I might have always actually been more than adequate without hardly ever feeling as though I was.

I am learning that confessing really does clean up the spirit.
I began my efforts so convinced of my inadequacies that I tried to prevent others from discovering the truth about me. I might describe this tendency as my first profession. Before I was anything, I attempted to become someone else for all the very best reasons. Mostly, I just understood that I would prove inadequate because of some things I would very likely never understand. If I was not the man I needed to be, better to at least attempt to be somebody else. Of course, this alternate me, having been designed and implemented by me, tended to demonstrate human frailty, too, but at least, I reasoned, it would be someone else who failed and not the one hiding behind his little curtain. And so I passed my earliest tests or failed them.

One of the greatest gifts maturity brings must be a thread of objectivity. I eventually came to see myself more as others perceived me rather than as presented in my defensive projections. I recognized the common human foibles in myself and slowly accepted that nobody was ever granted a single exemption from the standard set of human frailties. Nothing could ever be gained from pretending I had been excluded when they passed out inadequacies. I came to understand, albeit slowly, that I was neither exceptional nor average but that I might usually prove good enough. I began disclosing on a limited basis and started learning what I'd been afraid of discovering. Feelings of inadequacy are not half the challenge that adequacies entail.

I recognize that I've been confessing while writing these Success Stories. Whatever Successes I might have mentioned, the context within which I've mentioned them seems most causative. Had I not become capable of TrueConfessions, little of this series could have ever been written. It would have been secured too tightly behind an insecure facade. I might have even given instructions on how to achieve Success, pretending to be some expert in a topic nobody could ever have become expert in explaining, let alone achieving. Each fresh challenge might seem impossible to achieve, just like this story so recently seemed. I slipped beyond and through the apparent barrier. It was there; then it simply disappeared along with those now familiar and phony feelings of profound inadequacy. I once felt the compelling need to become somebody else to Succeed. Now I see that I must tell my stories or else I fail, and my stories might prove more than up to the challenge. TrueConfessions!


Someone Trying To Tell Their Truth
This writing week felt like an extended round of TrueConfessions, for I admitted several shortcomings as if they were beneficial, and perhaps they were. First, my deep distrust of cynical conservative feyness more than justifies my faith that Wokeness will likely prove our salvation if anything will. Second, I welcomed my SelfSaboteur to the table as well, rather than pretending that I do not often end up getting in the way of my attempted Successes. I Judge myself, sometimes harshly, but I might judge more generously without meaningfully undermining my Successes. Third, I confessed my affection for Nullness as something far different than simple vacuity. I admitted my occasional sloths and how writing about them seems to have eroded once clear distinctions between my Successes and my failures. Finally, I ended the confessional week by Starting something else, though I might have thought myself close to finishing this series. I seem to be writing a How-Did rather than a How-To series. Please do not interpret these stories as instructions on how to Succeed or how to Successfully fail. They represent someone trying to tell their truth and nothing else.

Weekly Writing Summary

I began my writing week praising Wokeness and putting cynical conservatism into its proper place with FeyLure. "Conservation always was a trap, a lure, a distraction. There never was anything even remotely resembling traditional values, those are just an empty phrase generating noise and confusion, attempting to separate us from our more perfect union."
Hieronymus Wierix, after Ambrosius Francken:
Volwassenheid [Maturity] (1563 - 1584)
" … our world seems much more Successful for our forebears' fumbled passes."

I admitted to employing an ever-vigilant SelfSaboteur to encumber my attempts at Success. "However Successful I might have otherwise become, I might always remain most Successful as a SelfSaboteur. I undermine my intentions in at least ten thousand shifting ways, rarely precisely the same way twice."
Jean-Siméon Chardin:
Self-Portrait with a Visor (c. 1776)
" … my fair share of nothing much at all."

I proposed making more generous judgements of my attempts at Succeeding in Judge. "I've proven myself more than capable of harshly judging, sometimes even approaching hanging judge class, probably for only the very best of misguided reasons. I've lost faith in sticks and carrots. I no longer get my kicks from making harsh judgements."
William Blake: God Judging Adam (ca. 1795)
" … exclusively reserved for my inner masochist."

I next spoke of Nullness, and the utility The Null Hypothesis brings to a Success. "We seem poised and ever ready to jump into our conclusion, bolstered by identity-preserving presumptions. Ask the anti-vaxers why. I think this results from a common human fragility, the sometimes desperate need to feel oppressed, to justify our innate paranoia of being up against some overwhelming opponents, because, of course, we are."
Thomas Wright:
An original theory or new hypothesis of the universe

"Success often resides in no result."

I noticed how delaying a Success seems to amplify its significance in *SuccessDelayed, the most popular post this period. "SuccessDelayed seems to amplify a Success. It's almost as if a quick result somehow discounts the value of the achievement, even when and if that result far exceeds a more modest one long delayed."
Peter Paul Rubens:
The Voyage of the Cardinal Infante Ferdinand of Spain from Barcelona to Genoa in April 1633, with Neptune Calming the Tempest, Alternate Title: Quos Ego (1635)
"I revel most in those long-delayed Successes!"

I looked at Success and failure and noticed how much they sometimes resemble each other in QuestioningDichotomies. "The real world deals more in enlightening confusions. It might just be that all dichotomies must ultimately prove to have been fictions."
De Scott Evans: The Irish Question (1880s)
"We all know what happens then."

I ended my writing week by composing a piece about how difficult I find Starting. "I will be afraid before I find courage. I will catch myself clueless long before any wisdom appears. I will dread until slightly after I head off in some new direction, then I will forever after be different."
Hans Kleiber: Starting on the Hunt (20th century)
" … much, much, much better at it than I've ever been."

Count me grateful for this opportunity to consider what might constitute Successful. I'm approaching the end of this series, and I'm feeling more than a little weary of this subject, and yet I keep finding another significant piece of this puzzle every morning. As I mentioned in one of my confessions last week, I suspect I could continue producing fresh Success Stories beyond ad infinitum, especially if I would continue to find such an attentive audience awaiting every posting. My inadequacies inform more than inhibit me now that I'm approaching maturity. Success once seemed like a performance. It now almost seems inevitable. Learned if I do and also learned if I don't, I grope my way toward my Successes. Thank you for witnessing this non-performance.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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