There is a place on Highway 55 in Central Idaho where a long stretch of the road heading into Round Valley dips into a cradle surrounded by glorious mountains. Morning fog often settles over the road, and the only choice is for a driver to turn on the headlights, slow down, and keep driving otherwise a less cautious driver coming from behind could cause a crash. Keep going.
I experience a faint feeling of doubt every time I encounter the fog. There could be a cow or deer in the road, chunks of firewood bounced from an overladen pickup truck, or another oncoming driver crossing the invisible center line. So, I’m alert and peer into the unknown, as if squinting will make the haze less dense. In the countless times I’ve driven this road, I know the fog will lift and I’ll drive into the sunshine. I know the passing scenery will change from a dense shroud into a glorious route through rugged canyons along a wild river that tumbles freely to the valley below. That’s why I keep driving.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been driving through fog with too much to do and too little time or energy to finish important projects. I’m holding the wheel until my knuckles turn white and peering ahead, but I can’t see a break. My wise intuition whispers “Keep going,” while my tired voice answers, “I want to stop and eat doughnuts.”
Most of my stress is self-imposed. I’ve known for months about three upcoming speeches at two national conventions, but I’ve waited until the last minute to complete my Power Point slides. I’ve known since last year about a book premiere party for a new anthology my company published, but I’m just now organizing promotional material for the event next month. And I’m organizing a writer’s retreat next month but need to register more people. Through all this cluster of items scribbled on wayward to-do lists, I’ve missed my grandkid’s activities and forgot to pay a few bills. And, I’ve had a nagging cough for weeks. I truly want to drive out of this fog.
In analyzing my current state of chaos, I realize the need to slow down and turn on the hazard lights. I don’t have the energy I took for granted in my thirties and forties, and there’s no reason to keep running the race when it was over years ago. I want to pull the emergency cord and get off the merry-go-round, but the music is so festive and the lights are so bright and I’m riding a gallant steed I call Lightening.
Actually, Lightening is an old, gray mare. She enjoyed her glory days at the carnival, but now her paint is chipped, one leg is cracked, and she’s not the favorite ride. She is quieter now as the platform continues to go round and round. In the distance, she notices the fog is settling. So she squints and keeps going.