Making Progress Slowly


Driving all day to our destination for Thanksgiving dinner this year gave me some additional time for contemplation, and a chance to review some material that has been on the back burner. There haven’t been many such opportunities recently, and I know that my writing has suffered from my inability to focus well these past few weeks, so since there was little else to do on the highway, it seemed like I had nothing to lose by trying to gather my thoughts.


Passing the sights along the way to Virginia to visit my daughter, I occasionally thought to capture the view out the window, since I was already staring at it anyway. The transitions between each area were seamless in the moment-to-moment experience of them, but once in a while one scene would catch my attention for a particular moment and stir my mind’s eye enough to warrant a closer look. It wasn’t lost on me that during the past several months, in important ways, the same thing had been happening in my inner world as well.


Whatever else might be true about (hopefully) enduring the inner turmoil that accompanies intense emotional distress, it tends to sharpen your focus on the aspects of experience that really matter.  There isn’t much chance of being indifferent in the face of such intensity, and as I have been navigating the stark emotional landscape of the last several months, the hills and valleys of the road to Virginia seemed oddly familiar.

Recovering from such a trip requires a fair amount of attention to the details one observed along the way and most often, it is only in retrospect that we can, to any measurable degree, decipher the complexity of it all into some version of a coherent narrative.  When the real work of endurance recently began for me, I felt as though I could competently navigate these long and winding paths, at least well enough to survive mostly intact.  As the path unfolded, I began to realize that I was far less competent than the circumstances required, and I felt as though I would collapse at any moment.  In the silences of the moments when I found myself alone, I fell repeatedly, and even now, I struggle to set these words to the page.

The emptiness within me reached a point where nothing seemed to matter beyond the immediate vicinity of my broken spirit, and turning my gaze to the barren trees and the lifeless leaves all around me felt almost like looking into a mirror at my inner reflection. Limping along for days, barely sleeping more than a few hours at a time, feeling so out of sync with the world without and the world within, I haven’t been able to find words in any way that I might normally do. Driving for hours along unfamiliar paths, I began to find snippets of the broken shards of the mirror within, and attempting to assemble them here tonight has given me some cause to hope that I might be able to climb back out into the light of day.

Thanks to all those who have supported me and waited patiently while I navigated these strange and dark paths of the last few months. I hope you will continue to stop by and visit while I work to re-enter the world of the living, and return to the important business of navigating the subjective experience of being me.

John H.

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