A thick blanket of fog settled on the Hollow every morning earlier this week. Heading out on my walks, I could only see a few steps ahead before the fog obscured the path.
Isn't that the perfect metaphor for life, that our paths are hidden, clouded by so many unknowns? And yet we know there's still a path, even if we can't see for sure where it is leading us. All that is clear is this moment and perhaps a few seconds beyond, before the future becomes veiled. There's nothing to do but put one foot ahead of the other, keep moving forward, with faith that we'll make good decisions and end up where we're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about choices lately, triggered by my dad being rushed to the hospital again night before last following another mini-stroke. I can't run down there this time to see him or help my mom; I can't afford to take off work.
Tinged with guilt, my mind wants to drift to "what-if"s...
...What if I hadn't dropped out of college? What if I had continued taking college classes when we first moved instead of putting it off until the house was built ten years later, when we were facing tuition x 3 for the kids? What if I had snagged something full-time years ago instead of juggling all those part-time jobs while the kids were in school?
Would we be so stressed about money now? Would I be retired, able to pursue writing and photography at my leisure as a second career, and run down to help my parents whenever they needed me?
Perhaps. But perhaps not. I mean, really, flirting with remorse over what-ifs is such a waste of time, isn't it? The path was just as foggy then as it is today. And at least I thought I was making good decisions. I had a plan...the path just didn't go in the direction I thought it would.
And what about my parents? What if they had moved near us as we hoped? What if Daddy would take his medicine and eat the way he's supposed to to control his blood sugar? Other people's decisions often affect us as much as our own.
And now I'm peering into the fog, with more decisions to make. Tom suggested I go back to school full-time. He figures two years should do it. But, as the one who pays the bills, I know how tight we're already stretched. I mean, we're jumping-up-and-down-to-get-our-jeans-on tight.
Maybe you can get a scholarship for being old, a little voice whispers, and I feel a flame of hope flare in my heart that I thought was completely snuffed...the one that dreams of getting a degree.
But then what? Would I teach? Would I be able to get a job, even with a degree, at my age? Would I have time for my writing and photography, or have to put those on a shelf for awhile?
Decisions, decisions. Will this fog ever lift?
To decide is to walk facing forward with nary a crick in your neck from looking back at the crossroads.
~Betsy Cañas Garmon
P.S. Thanks to Vanessa for reminding me of this prayer by Thomas Merton...
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.