UnderSitting


"This is that unlikely place, I suspect."

I say that I understand, but I probably don't. Maybe I could understand, I might even be on my way toward understanding, but I've yet to sit down and deeply consider the situation. I seem to have something more like a strolling-by-ing. I haven't yet slowed down quite enough to stand with this perspective long enough to look it squarely in the eye. Even then, I'm still upright, still in mobile mode, not quite at my ease. I'm balancing on my heels, eyeing the surroundings, half distracted while failing to fully absorb. Understanding only gets me so far. A deeper comprehension requires me to sit a spell: Undersitting.

Undersitting seems a choice rarely proffered. I do drive-by comprehension, slowing just long enough to grasp some gist, but hardly long enough to recognize any whole concept or how it might fit together with other ideas.
I read reviews of books in lieu of reading books, then spout off as if I understood the books without ever having Undersat with them, without smelling their bindings and tolerating the slow prose connecting the slick parts. Undersitting encourages an actual relationship with a concept, not just a stamp designating that I once slowed long enough to grab while passing by, but a few tick bites acknowledging that I deigned to sit beneath some tree where I might have agreed to disagree. Standing to leave, I might then claim to understand and you might well believe me then, because we'd been Undersitting together long enough to confirm mutual comprehension.

Social media feeds the hungry ego with bling, likes strung on thin threads then hung around our virtual necks as if they adequately replaced real virtue. See how popular I am? Imagine how connected I must be! How insightful! It's frightful, really, how rarely I find myself approaching even a halfway decent understanding, let alone a satisfying Undersitting. Drive-through relationships, lasting no longer than it takes to pass change up to the cashier wearing a Bluetooth headset and chatting with the next customer in line while passing back my order. No surprise possible. I mumble a Have A Nice Day without reciprocal acknowledgement and head on my way, unable to immediately enjoy this latest treasure. I have to drive now. I'll catch up to this latest catch after it's already gone cold.

Maybe I'm just growing older and can't quite keep up. Of the ten thousand impressions blurring by me, I find myself focusing upon ever fewer. The take-out burger doesn't seem to nourish me like it once could. The menu options hardly thrill. I've become a shill in some incomprehensible game, a reliable presence without hardly supplying any presence at all. My humor almost reduced to punch lines, out of context and probably incomprehensible to everyone but me, and I've already heard the joke ten thousand times. I'm hardly ever surprised anymore. Even when I sit, I find myself sitting in an anonymous corner of the place, face to face with nobody but myself, posting sweet-seeming little reflections, hoping someone else might drive by, maybe understand. No loitering Undersitting not allowed.

I believe that we're by nature a loitering species. We quite naturally take our time. Trained, we learn to make time and break time, and fake that we're masters of our time, but only rarely possess it, let alone freely give it away. The Muse works with a guy who's exclusively on the clock. If he doesn't have a charge code, he won't engage. He metes out his time, refusing to just jump in and waste some on some approaching fancy which will pass unless he reaches out to tackle it and roll around wrestling with it in the grass. If it's not served up all formal like, it seems to not exist for him. No cracks ever open up to invite him in, or he never seems to notice the vast crevasses presenting themselves. He thinks The Muse a fool for chasing down unchargable dreams which sometimes even come true. Then he wonders how come she gets all the opportunities.

I believe that time comes to us to waste, to spend profligately, without remorse. We might be meant to sit a spell, then a spell longer, and poorly suited to zooting off to the next distraction and then the one looming beyond it. Always another seductive bright-shiny beyond. If only, we say. If only I was there instead of here. If only it was then and not now. If only I could sit beneath this tree, though it's in no way a perfect tree and, yes, the ticks might well consume me there, I might come to comprehend. This is that tree. This is that time. This is that unlikely place, I suspect. I might just as well accept this.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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