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John La Farge: A Rishi Stirring Up a Storm (1897)

" … in preparation for an on-time arrival."

The two most dangerous parts of every airplane flight come at the beginning and at the ending of the flying. The flying itself, once aloft and leveled off at cruising altitude, becomes pretty routine, but both beginning and ending observe what the regulating authorities call Sterile Periods, where, by law, crew must remain focused upon their responsibilities. No chit chat and no playing mumbly-peg in the cockpit. Beginnings and endings remain serious business. Writing's no different, and, I suppose, if I researched any profession, I'd find a traditional respect observed for beginnings and for endings. An innocent oversight before departure can bloom into a crisis once away. In some ways, I suppose that every profession amounts to life or death since none of the time any of us invest proves to be refundable. We hasten slowly when starting and no more quickly when coming back to Earth.

This Againing Series, begun in sublime ignorance almost three months ago, has started making noises like it's just about ready to land at its destination, wherever that might be.
I've already started my mental checklist, hoping to ensure that the series can actually finish on time without overmuch fanfare or overlooked importances. I aspire to have produced a complete series, a finished work, though I know some servicing of the product will be required before I can rightfully call this one done. I need a team of cleaners to come in and ensure that the seat back pockets aren't overflowing with used Kleenex®, for instance, and I'll need to dust off my editing hat again, the one I always feel so conspicuous wearing I feel embarrassed. This pilot would really rather be flying, though, like with anything, the primary focus of the job amounts to only a small fraction of the incumbent's overall responsibilities. If one wants to master flying, mastering takeoffs and landings seems essential, however unwanted those details.

Back when I used to teach workshops, I grew to recognize that I was not nearly as skilled at beginnings and endings as I felt I was at delivering the middles. An early mentor noticed my discomfort and asked after it before advising that I might consider formally announcing my impending ineptnesses. Otherwise, she counseled, they'll be wondering what's happening and actively making up scathing explanations for whatever you're doing when you're only demonstrating that you don't feel confident in your beginning or your ending, and they won't be paying attention to what you're trying to impart. Just disclose, she suggested, your participants can handle it. And she was correct in her prediction. I never once had a single student storm out of a session when I prophylactically predicted my impending ineptness. In fact, my announcement served as a checklist of sorts, focusing my attention on what I could do correctly and relegating whatever I would likely deliver poorly into semi-endearing patter.

And so it is also with my series-writing. I begin each not understanding what I'm supposed to be doing with that one, my purpose lacking the clarity a definite destination and orderly flight plan might contribute. I fly in darkness at first, but have so far always found a serviceable course, one that I suspect could not have emerged had I started with clearer intentions. Likewise, the endings turn fuzzy after a few months cruising through infinite middle space. I never really want any of my series to end and I each time need to relearn the approach protocols for landing, invoked during a necessary Sterile Period. One does not simply return to Earth after such flights. I must observe certain rituals or I jinx the whole excursion. The primary purpose of each of my series has been to facilitate learning, and learning, as I've suggested before, requires an often disconcerting volume of ignorance as a precondition to its occurring. One never begins knowing what any excursion intends to teach. Each landing occurs as if into fog, feet reaching for an imagined tarmac at an emergent destination.

I'm not down yet. I'm merely anticipating another ending. I should announce that this conclusion, too, might seem messy in execution. I have been considering not beginning a next series after completing this one. I ask myself as part of my arrival checklist if this activity remains worth the trouble, the considerable inconvenience creating anything entails. I ask this question because it's necessary to avoid certain presumptions, most prominently, the presumption of infinity when unavoidably embedded within just another finite situation. Just because I cannot see beyond the clouds enveloping me does not mean that those clouds extend forever. What if I didn't do this anymore? Who would I have to become to not pilot this airliner? Do I have any real interest in becoming him?

While asking myself disconcerting questions, I'm trying on prospective flight plans for a next series, one capable of shepherding me and you, kind readers, almost clear until Christmas. That next excursion will begin like this one began, without understanding the ramifications of innocent initial choices and conditions. It will begin with the humbling recognition that it could end by crashing and burning so it will require care and caution. I will have become somebody different than whomever I identified as when I began, a different person, a different man, one I could not have possibly predicted before leaving the relative safety of not having yet started. Not having yet started, though, might be the most perilous part of every adventure, given the non-refundable nature of the raw material and the fact that even this present cloud only extends so far and cannot possibly be infinite. Please bring your seat backs to their full upright position and return your tray tables to the seat back in front of you in preparation for an on-time arrival. Thanks for flying with us this time, folks.


An Annoying Uninvited Visitor
I lost communication with ground control this week as The Muse and I went off-grid for three days and two nights. It had been well over six months since I'd last missed posting some daily missive and I felt both naked and refreshed taking that brief respite. As we exited, The Muse announced her cancer diagnosis, which left us in the dark about the response it sparked, which turned out to be considerable. One never knows when reporting some difference how any audience might react. This audience, this crew, did itself proud. The Muse, and I by association, feel enveloped by your warming support. There will be more announcements and, as I reported in my story
Illness this week, neither this series nor the next will be focusing upon The Muse's treatment. I will doubtless provide modest updates in passing, but she finds it boring bordering upon dangerous to focus too much attention upon anything merely passing. She does not have anything. She rejecting delivery, and is simply working to rid herself of an annoying uninvited visitor.

I began my writing week prefacing The Muse's announcement, which she'd deliberately withheld until the Schr
ödinger had resolved into something worth reporting, in TheReveal. "It might be that asking any question only serves to spawn a thousand more like that one, and that seeking to resolve anything merely assures irresolution. These mysteries are not curses and never were."

I then performed a tiny little paradox by reporting while actually offline in
Offlining. "It can't matter how much screen time I log. I might be someone other than who I pretend to be online."

I meditated upon shifting perspective and the necessity of experiencing different
Aspects. "The world relies upon people like us to get underfoot sometimes. It morns our absences, especially the lengthy ones, and it scolds us to not forget that we require varying Aspects to thrive."

I sang a few passing praises about secret passages in
Backdooring. "If everyone understood how to get from here to there via the backdoor route, there'd no longer be a point to ever trying to get there that way. Wider recognition only spoils the intention."

I couldn't help myself so I wrote a brief reflection on
*Illness. This proved to be my most popular posting this period. "Illness knows no morals and dispenses no justice. It just is whatever it is."

I reported upon the most annoying feature of living in The Great American West in
Smoked. "Best, maybe, to remember how tenuously we live and to forgive even the wildfire's trespasses against us, against Heaven, for they remind us how blessed we remain once their curse has fled."

I ended this writing week by sort of summarizing what I've been trying to impart with all this season's repeated Againing in
Adaptigrating. "I do not pine for simpler times. I do not wish I could unexperience all I've encountered here. I still choke on bitter tears and secretly hope to continue choking for all my remaining years."

And so this week's portion of this season's Againing Series ends. Early Friday morning serves as my Sterile Period, for I both arrive at my destination and depart for a next one then. I see that this series will end immaculately, by which I mean that next Thursday, the last day of Summer as well as the first day of Autumn, will hold my final missive in this series, which means that next Friday's retrospective will include only Againings. It will also carry another new beginning and start its wending toward another unanticipate-able ending, seeking TheReveal. May it encourage Offlining and discourage addiction, offer differing Aspects and ample Backdooring. May Illness not overwhelm or obscure its purpose. May something smother the wildfire smoke while we continue Adaptigrating onward together. Thanks for tagging along, even unto illness toward health.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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