Gran's Apple Butter Blog

October 4, 2011

Going Home, Excerpt: Fog Banks (7/III)

Chapter 7 – Fog Banks

It’s a good thing our hearts have such clear vision, ‘cause sometimes it can be hard for our eyes to see, particularly when the weather turns while we’re out and about. It does that, you know: Weather happens. Like fog. Fog settles on mountains highs and valleys low, and Gran said every road crosses a few of those.

Fog rolls in other places too, usually where the tide and our emotions are running high. In those moments we may feel like we’re lost in that grayness. Sometimes we’re standing way out on a pier, sometimes we’re sitting in a boat, and sometimes that boat has sunk beneath us and we’re floundering in the waves, treading water in soup so thick we can’t tell up from down.

I learned what this felt like, as Gran knew I would. I found myself in those waves not just once or twice, and I didn’t know how to save myself. Not until I ran into someone else who was also lost in that fog. From my vantage point, I could see that all my new friend needed to do was to stop fighting, to simply stand up and step out of the waves, like turning on a light in a dark room.

What my friend couldn’t see was that the water was only waist deep and the clouds were just a paper-thin veil in front of her eyes. She was already on the beach, she could feel the sand if she’d only put her feet down and stand up. Just one step forward would take her through that haze.

But until she could let go of the fear that kept her treading water, terrified that the next wave would be her last, until she could find the trust to put her feet down and know she would be taken care of, like Gran’s sparrows, well, all I could do was watch. All she had to do was straighten her legs and shift her weight to her own two feet. That’s all.

She even had helpers, although she couldn’t see them. Remember the ones who stayed on the other side? I could hear them calling from where they stood in the sunshine – “You’re here, you’re safe. Stand up!” But in her wild thrashing, she couldn’t hear them. They held out branches and threw ropes, but with her eyes closed she didn’t see those lifelines. She almost seemed determined not to see them. And that was all her helpers could do, because they knew these were her waters to conquer.

She had a choice. She could stand up by letting go, which would probably be the hardest, bravest thing she ever did in her life. Or she could stay at the edge of the waves, struggling until she was too exhausted to fight anymore, until the waves of her own emotions would take her under one last time. Even then she had a choice – to relax and float calmly to the surface, or to keep thrashing about until her lungs filled with water. She had a choice.

We always have this choice, Gran would remind me. But it’s up to us to make it. No one else can do this for us. It’s ironic how true that is. Even having seen the other side of my friend’s predicament, in my own fog banks I’d fight to the finish, choking down water and spitting out seaweed. Yet somehow, in the end, I always made it through. Just in time I’d catch hold of a branch or a rock and pull myself to safety, almost in spite of myself. Almost like I had my own helpers.

It’s like driving on a foggy night when your defroster isn’t working. You know what Gran did when that happened? She’d roll down her window, stick out her head and keep going, slowly creeping along. As long as she didn’t drive too fast, she could see each little yellow stripe at the end of her headlights. One stripe at a time, she always got home through the darkness, and bed never felt so good.

—–
© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
Come visit: http://www.facebook.com/marybatson2 | http://www.frontporchrambles.com

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