Rendered Fat Content


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: Elles: The Seated Clown,
Mlle Cha-u-Ka-o (1896)

" … a clear violation of my intention of doing nothing for a change."

I consider my inability to do nothing a serious personal shortcoming. Over the last sixty years or so, I have focused the bulk of my attention upon doing stuff, often toward being up to something, sometimes even to accomplishing shit. My life's properly been all about creating what was not there before my passage, just as if any of that might make a difference. And I understand from reports from the field, that I did manage to make some differences, local, personal, not necessarily global. I studied the lessons in self-discipline and stayed mostly true to those intentions. I never lingered in bed in the morning. I didn't surrender myself to degradation long enough to do any permanent damage. I've come through, but with this little personal shortcoming intact. It seems to me as though I might have managed to learn how to do nothing by now, to not feel so ill at ease when unengaged, but to feel instead a certain WellAtEase sensation, where the world seems well enough without me obsessing about the quality or volume of my current contribution. Just sayin'.

I might have Ill At Ease down pat, though.
I well know how to fuss and fritter my time whenever away from some task. I sense then that I'm under scrutiny, that some invisible, harsh judge stands observing and quietly disapproving, slowly building steam until reaching some point where he'll administer retribution, probably in the form of a lightning bolt out of heaven. Such are the returns on idle investments. I doubt that I've spent a completely guilt-free second when not actively engaged in something. I make up stories, attempting to justify my idling, none of which hold an ounce of anything really worth holding. Unable to sleep, incapable of dreaming, I struggle to recover from over-exertion, since the logical wages of exertion, in my internal accounting system, seem to be even more exertion or some angst-ridden failed attempt at vacation. Oh, to sleep, perchance even to dream, these seem my next great aspirations. Now, how to accomplish such nothingness on a regular basis. …

I suspect that this game, like many others, is mostly mental, though I cannot quite imagine the exercises necessary to tone up the muscle groups needed for accomplishing WellAtEase nothings. I suspect an attitude might underpin this skill, a sense that one's already done well enough in the accomplishment realm, that one's already produced plenty and enough. Though I suspect that few of us were ever programmed to expect that we'd ever sufficiently succeed such that we might at some point comfortably cease striving, it might be possible to gain a skill more like floating, suspended by the universe rather than making like the big old Atlas supporting the whole shebang. None of us prove essential, nor none of our works. I might try holding my breath as well as my expectations and seek opportunities to trust this damned opposing universe to become my ally for a change, to simply let go and float.

I cannot predict the length of the course of study that will be necessary for me to routinely experience WellAtEase. With The Muse announcing her impending retirement, perhaps we might even attempt some pair efforts at overcoming or undershooting the Ill At Ease-ness that accompanied our more productive years. What Now? and What Next? could ease into tenaciously benign intent, a satisfaction with the world produced even if our most concerted efforts never quite managed to change it to our will. Will seems like overkill from my perspective now. Letting stuff flow at their own viscosity seems a superior philosophy. It might come to be that my actual productivity increases once I come to master WellAtEase, though I'm well aware that even imagining this amounts to aspiring for something, a clear violation of my intention of learning how to do nothing for a change.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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