Dan Keusal's e-newsletter
Autumn 2020 edition:
"Out of the Gray & Fog"
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The essay in this newsletter starts with an image, then finds in that image layers--metaphors and symbols that reflect these troubled times, and perhaps offer a way through them. I hope you will find here something that resonates with your lived experience, provides some comfort, and even inspires you.
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Reflections: “Out of the Gray & Fog"
On the morning before the autumnal equinox, I drove to a local beachfront park with the intention of spending a mindful hour acknowledging and honoring this day that marks the annual, ancient transition from one season to the next.
I walked from my parking space down to the beach and found that the normally expansive views—spectacular vistas of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains—were gone. A dense fog had settled in. All I could see were a few logs and rocks jutting up out of the water just offshore (remnants, I imagined, of a dock or pier from long ago) and a single small sailboat bobbing listlessly a bit further out. Beyond that, there was nothing but gray.
I sat quietly for some time on a huge piece of driftwood, an uprooted tree that had been tossed onto the beach by a tumultuous storm in the past. As I took in the scene in front of me and reflected on it, I saw more and more clearly the metaphors, the symbolism.
That view was a mirror of the uncertainty of these times: of the impending election; of the resurgent coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic; of the deepening struggles to end systemic racism, and discrimination against women and sexual minorities; of an economy that has led to an ever-widening income disparity between the rich and nearly everyone else; of the looming global threat of climate change. It also reflected the stories I hear each day from clients about how they are trying to find meaning and direction in the midst all of this.
The world right now seems a lot like the view that morning. The far horizon has been lost to gray and fog. The remnants of the structures where we once anchored ourselves and from which we once set sail are now in tatters. And the lone boat within sight appears to be adrift, perhaps even abandoned, and inadequate for the difficult journey ahead.
I found my attention drawn back to that boat, and realized: in all likelihood, there was someone out there, perhaps sleeping below. I imagined that soon they would awaken, come up on deck, and once again set sail.
We can all do the same. We can awaken from the ways that we have been sleeping, unconscious, or just taking refuge. We can, against all odds, rise up and re-emerge from the storms that have battered us; we can raise our sails, turn into the wind, and continue the journeys we are each meant to take.
I saw a story in the paper today about a group of white senior citizens from a housing complex in Harlem who were inspired by the Black Lives Matter marches earlier this summer. One of them noted, “because we’re older and not so spry,” they could not make the long journeys to join distant gatherings. Instead, with handmade signs, some in their 90s and leaning on canes, they began protesting each night in front of the supermarket on the street adjacent to their home. Despite freezing temperatures, the story noted, they plan to continue their vigil through the election and possibly beyond. [Click here for the story]. That is how they awakened, in the midst of gray and fog, how they came out on deck, and did what they could to make their way through this troubled world. May each of us, starting right where we are, find our own ways of doing the same.
Resources For A Life Of Depth And Meaning:
(photo): "Gray And Fog" (Dan Keusal). Click on the photo to download a copy for your own enjoyment.