Sunday, December 15, 2013

La Nebbia

I remember foggy mornings in Arkansas. Not a whole lot, but it seems like sometimes when we went to school early, there would be fog in the valleys of the very hill-and-valley terrain between home and school. I always thought it was beautiful and mysterious.

And I really remember fog in northern Italy. Where they had to put special reflective paint and markers all along the roads for miles, because the fog was responsible for multiple deaths when drivers simply could not see well enough to realize another car was coming right at them. And then more cars could not see the accident ahead, and it would just start a pile-up.  So the markers were indications of how slow one ought to drive. (If you can see three markers, you can go x kilometers per hour, but if you can see only two, better slow to x km, and so on.)

Of course Venice in the fog was like a dream. Beautiful, mysterious, other-worldly. (And could get your clothes wet, too.)

Back in an earlier job setting, I worked with a group of people who struggled with various life situations. We would start each meeting with a check in. Rate your general mood with a number, and rate your general "brain fog" with a number. Brain fog became a frequent topic of our conversation. Because when you're depressed, not sleeping well, feeling confused and close to hopeless about your future, thinking clearly does not come easily.

Thus, brain fog.

I find that this year of my life has brought a lot of brain fog. Which is funny, because I am working on a doctorate now, so of course I have to think clearly enough to do that work. But the stress of that along with other significant stressors have made for a year with almost no consistent routine (and brains thrive on routine), along with the sorts of chemicals that stress pumps into the brain that further foggify it.

(The computer is telling me that "foggify" is not a word. It doesn't know that Gerard Manley Hopkins is my blog's patron saint, obviously, and I shall use words as I choose.)

Anyway, I went for a walk a while back (one of the routines I lost this month with some severely cold weather coinciding with a moderately severe nerve condition that makes being cold something to avoid at all costs for now.), and it was a gorgeously foggy morning.

Beautiful, mysterious, and like brain fog, made it very hard to see clearly.

And the "sacred bench," as I've come to think of it, just struck me as so beautiful.

Perhaps because it is on land surrounded by water, it showed up more clearly than most of the rest of the park. There was less fog where it was.

And even though I was there alone, the bench was a symbol to me of what had helped get me through the brain fog of this past year, and that of many other times in my life. It's the people who will sit down with you and just be there to talk and listen and share and care. That loving care helps clear the fog, brings light into the mind, makes it possible to remember the fog is temporary. The mind will return to its normal functioning.

Richard Stivers has written a fascinating book called Shades of Loneliness, in which he ponders the likelihood that our disconnected society (largely related to technologization) is at the root of much of mental illness. I think he is largely right in what he has written. If more people had sacred benches on which to sit, or people to walk with in the park, I feel sure we'd have less need for the kind of work I do.

I'm thankful for the people who walk and sit with me and help clear the fog from my brain from time to time--sometimes it takes more than once a day.

"Nebbia" is Italian for fog. Where our "nebulous" comes from. And just as fog can be yucky, like brain fog, it can also be beautiful. So I picked a nebulous title for it.

For another foggy post with more photos and a poem with much sadder sentiments, see "Im Nebel."


suz rubio said...

Lovely reminder, that bench for two, that only one sitting beside me, listening to me, or waiting silently for me is required to bring enough light and warmth to lift the fog blanket wrapped too tightly around me. Perhaps a village is needed to raise that child, but only one is needed to lift that fog. Beautiful musings this morning, friend.

Cindy McMillion said...

So agree with Suz: When I'm in a fog, it is life-giving for someone to listen and just BE with me.