Scarvey column: Driving through the fog

  • Posted: Thursday, November 26, 2009 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:20 a.m.

As I write this, it's the day before Thanksgiving. My parents are on their way to Salisbury to join us for the holiday. While the rest of my family is probably bustling around at Harris Teeter, arguing about whether one bag of marshmallows is enough for the sweet potato puff, I'm here at work.
I can't seem to concentrate because as usual, I haven't planned very well.
For example, I keep thinking about how dirty my kitchen floor is because I never blocked out the time this week that scrubbing it required. I am picturing the dog hair that is hiding under the radiators and the muddy pawprints that are out there in plain sight.
I'm also worried because I haven't bought the cranberries yet, and now I'm hearing rumblings that there's a shortage in local stores. Since cranberries are the best part of the Thanksgiving meal for me, you'd think that I'd have prioritized actually acquiring some, but no, I just don't roll that way.
Planning for Christmas isn't yet on my radar, or my husband's either. Will we be traveling to see our families in Virginia or Connecticut? Who knows? Who can commit so early?
I'm pretty sure our indecisiveness and procrastination drives our loved ones in Virginia and Connecticut crazy, but they've resigned themselves to it by now.
"Well, when you figure it out will you let us know?" they ask, in the tone of the long suffering.
I think I used to be better at looking ahead, but I believe my orientation to the future changed during the years my daughter was battling major health issues.
For example, I quit blocking out vacation days on the calendar at work because I felt like I needed to save them up, in case there was a hospital stay that I could not predict.
I think we all took things day by day, reacting to whatever crisis was in front of us at the time, hoping and praying that the bottom didn't drop out.
Now, the health concerns have largely receded, for which I am immensely grateful. But I've found it hard to gear into serious planning mode again.
Considering my short-term approach to life made me think of an E.L. Doctorow quotation that I've loved since I heard it. Doctorow is actually comparing writing a novel to driving in the fog, but it strikes me as a pretty good metaphor for living a life.
"You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
Maybe we're all driving in the fog, whether we realize it or not. What's ahead is ultimately a mystery, even for the control freaks among us.
What's important is to keep moving ahead with as much joy as we can muster and to try to savor the trip as much as possible, even if we don't know how it's going to end.
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