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Rembrandt van Rijn:
The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild,
Known as ‘The Syndics’

"I UsedTo be an innocent, but now I'm more experienced."

I possess a long and ever-growing list of UsedTos: things I used to do, beliefs I once held but outgrew, foods I once treasured but now consider illegal, and assorted discarded habits, vices, attractions, loves, and hates. I like to think that my tastes have moderated over time, that my sophistication has been steadily climbing some evolutionary ladder, but that's probably idle chatter, my monkey mind keeping me distracted and entertained. I still declare several of my UsedTos as remaining on my list of current skills, though I'm surely out of practice on many. I was once successful, for instance, but it's been ages since my successes or failures have influenced my choices. I no longer strive after achievement. I put down my head and continue onward instead.

The purposeful life isn't all it was once cracked up to be.
I learned early on that Purpose would be primal, an essential part of any decent doing, but that notion told much less than half the story. In its original configuration, Purpose would come first, like a cart's team of horses, then more or less magically pull the protagonist through their subsequent difficulties. Purpose would serve as an effort's armor, its primary defense, rendering it relatively blessed when the purposeless were damned by their experiences. And all this was true though hardly half the story. More often, Purpose would emerge without having been understood beforehand, the initial effort not at all blessed but nonetheless successful. Other times, Purpose never seemed to enter into it, and an adequate experience and result nevertheless manifested. I UsedTo believe in the primacy of Purpose. Now I believe it's at best a nice to have and no tragedy when absent.

We seem wary of plot twists even though they tend to be how Delight emerges. Delight rarely comes from any well-planned action. It seems more attracted to the initially tentative and the terminally distracted. It must surprise, it seems, or fail to live up to whatever we believe Delight should be. It could not rival what we'd already discovered if we could anticipate its content or arrival. We Delight in stumbling upon more than in disciplined creating. We'd rather feel surprised than merely fulfilled. We can be easily satisfied but not so conveniently Delighted. It helps if we're initially annoyed, frustrated, perhaps even pissed. The universe seems to Delight in this reversal of fortune, where what seemed harassing suddenly turns into a blessing. Not one of us ever really knows this potential beforehand, no matter how experienced we might fancy ourselves to be.

I UsedTo warmly anticipate creating every new installment in this Honing Series, for it enjoyed an extended childhood and adolescence. It matured as slowly as its summer season, with days extending more than halfway to midnight and mornings coming well before first light. Nights shrank to brief interludes even though the days started growing shorter from the outset. It took weeks before I noticed any waning. The Autumn swooped in like a raptor this year, taking Summer hostage. I wore my sweatshirt most mornings lately and felt over-dressed before evenings came, too early, to cool down the proceedings. Now, this Honing Series so recently hatched has almost ended. What wisdom has been imparted? What folly? Assessing the Purpose of this passage should properly stretch far beyond its boundaries. It seems almost like a jar of home-canned tomatoes, preserved for future consumption, a component, future Purpose to be determined. I UsedTo be an innocent, but now I'm more experienced.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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