Rendered Fat Content


"If you ever meet me on a golf course, shoot me. You'll be doing us both a great favor."

I have a difficult time envisioning my great grandparents hanging out. I'm uncertain if hanging out had even been invented then. They busted their humps for their entire ninety year-and-then-some lifespans. Even in retirement, they hardly slowed, having mouths to feed and a small home to maintain. They just kept at it until they were no more. I suppose that the notion of leisure as a just reward for labor originated with people who had insufficient work to keep them entertained, potentates and such. Later, it was sold as a promise, perhaps to mollify those who labored at the more exhausting jobs. Keep your nose clean and you could be playing golf on Saturday. In the mean time, tote that damned bale, slave.

I think the smooth transfer of the desire for leisure failed for me. I understand that it has now become an imbedded part of the amended American Dream, but it seems a more nightmarish threat to me.
I'm now a couple of years past the accepted retirement age, but feel no particular urge to stop working. My work still gets me up in the morning and occupies my mind for at least the first few hours of every day, three hundred and sixty-five days each year. My work makes my heart sing. WorkSing.

So-called vacation time drives me up a wall. I distract myself by cleverly gathering material for possible inclusion in my future work, which is really a part of my current work. I'd rather be home, indentured to my writing chair until I produced my requisite words for the day. On those rare occasions when I 'take off a day,' I can feel my existence slipping away without leaving any footprints behind. By the end of a day working in the yard or repainting some possession, I feel genuinely tired; not really up for a night chasing leisure around town. On mornings when no spirit moves me to start working, I hover bereft. I'd really rather be working than doing anything else at all.

I freely admit that I am not now nor have I ever been a well-rounded person. I delve way too deeply into some interests and utterly avoid any balancing counters. I am single-minded. Some chores repel me, but only because I'm favoring some more urgent or interesting chore. I am probably a bore to be around, at least for pretty much everyone but me. Who was I supposed to be pleasing, anyway?

I also admit that I do not have a job, if job is defined as the sort of work that reliably produces a paycheck. My work doesn't very often produce a payday, and this might be the reason I find it so unrelentingly compelling. Nobody is ever apathetic, except when pursuing someone else's dream. Back when I held the august position of Pot Washer in the grimy basement of a fancy restaurant, I steadfastly refused to pursue the restauranteur's vision, except when it didn't conflict with my own. This proved to be no real difficulty for me because the restauranteur wanted little from me besides clean pots. I declared myself The Pot Wizard, and easily delighted every chef in the place, and not only because chefs are notorious slobs. They were easy to please without my ever once compromising my own vision. You see, I was then a songwriter, and Pot Wizarding provided ample cogitation time. I could work on my latest composition in the safe confides of my head while swapping out slimy sink water and stacking up yet another pile of goopy chicken pans.

That job was a medium within which I could engage in my work, a job I never felt the need to shirk. Sometimes my work terrified me. I could find myself stuck in the middle of some unresolvable couplet or phrase, but I never found the courage to run away from that responsibility. I just kept humping until I figured out how to resolve the impasse or some more alluring possibility appeared; all the time cycling through another pile of goopy chicken pans from what appeared to be an infinite fresh supply of them. I picked up my guitar on weekends, shifting the medium but never really the work.

When my Dawlink Dwaughta Heidi was small, she was easily bored. She used to drive the rest of the family crazy complaining about how she had nothing to do. She was apparently blessed with the compulsive worker gene, inherited from Lord knows where. As a business owner now, she faces the endless challenge of always having more to do than she could ever possibly deliver, a state she seems to pursue with more passion than getting anything done could ever impart.

The Muse could testify about what happens to me when my work runs out. When I lose my vision to anyone else's or when my always meager well seems to run dry. I curl up in a not so little ball and petrify until my eyes clear again and I see where I might next proceed. I pray that my labor might never end, that I might never actually finish this life's work in progress, that my WorkSing might continue until I simply am no more. If you ever meet me on a golf course, shoot me. You'll be doing us both a great favor.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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