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Edgar Degas: Dancer Turning (c. 1876)

"I solved nothing and resolved everything …"

Contrary to popular misconception, most difficulties do not need fixing. Yes, they certainly seem to need fixing, but this appearance often proves misleading. I spoke yesterday of TheWall, a real barrier to forward progress. I insisted that I would need to find some way over, under, around, or through that wall to unstick myself, but that insistence played into this prevalent misconception. I managed to escape that wall's influence by less radical means, by what I might call a GoodNuff technique. Please make no mistake, TheWall's still there, but it no longer holds much influence over my progress. Did I go over, under, around, or through it? No, I didn't. I evaporated its power over me instead.

Promise wields great and mysterious influence. I can, for instance, feel absolutely up against TheWall one minute and, the next minute, feel utterly liberated from that wall's influence.
The difference holds little substance. It might be more than ninety percent glimmer, as of yet unrealized potential, but it still holds that potential, promising something different than simple stuckness up against some wall. It might appear first as a vague remembrance, a recollection of what might be missing, a notion of what I'd rather be doing. Without even managing to do that something, the mere promise of perhaps doing that something changes the very nature of the difficulty. Where I had been stymied, I suddenly and surprisingly held some promise, and that sensation alone made a huge difference. I can then start moving as-if, which often makes all the difference.

I can then proceed toward whatever promise foretold in that spare moment. I'm moving, and even if it starts as no more than mental movement, the stultifying stuckness seems already ninety percent vanquished. The wall persists, but it somehow fails to get me then. I'm moving beyond that low point toward a familiar attraction. How had I forgotten what I love? How could I have chosen to sacrifice myself to whatever objective I was pursuing? I often find myself stuck when I neglect to attend to the quality of my own experience, when I paradoxically choose to sacrifice myself to improve my chances of success. I often initiate this behavior for my own good, with the very best intentions. The contradiction amplifies the wall's influence. I become a prisoner of my own paradox.

Promise collapses the cognitive barrier standing in my way. If a trick exists, the trick might be to avoid getting too awfully hung up in figuring out how to fix the blockage. There might be ten thousand different methods for successfully breaching a blockage, but none of those methods could matter very much in the moment of stuckness. In that moment, a glimmer of promise might sidestep the stuckness without resolving anything. The moment seems transcended by the alluring notion of difference, not any discrete action taken to disassemble the difficulty. Disassembly can start later once the trance breaks open after some mobility has been regained. Any effort expended to breach the barrier before glimpsing promise might prove to be wasted effort, so much wishful aspiring. Holding promise resolves the aspiring. I can already feel the difference without having disassembled anything.

It might be that disassembly never needs to begin. Once transcended, the wall's influence holds little currency. Whether over, under, around, or through brought you to resolution becomes moot, no matter how emphatically anyone might be asking. Was it magic that brought the insight that enflamed promise? Let's agree that it was a form of magic and one only ever easily conjured in retrospect. Looking forward, TheWall always appears to be a smooth blank surface upon which little promise flickers. Looking over my shoulder later, I see the solution projected in Technicolor® detail. Perhaps a virus imperceptibly infected my perspective. Once I stumbled upon promise, I was already more than halfway home. I solved nothing and resolved everything, a GoodNuff solution for whatever ailed me then.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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