Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Not Simply Orange

A walking lie. This morning I walked toward the pier carrying a plastic bottle that claimed it was Simply Orange. It wasn’t Simply Orange at all—it was about 1/3 orange juice and 7/8 San Pellegrino. I saw two young men approaching the pier and knew that they were walking much faster than I could walk. I had no energy or even any desire to get there first. So I took my fake Simply Orange and waited on a nearby bench. The young men left and I began to walk toward the end of the pier. It was then that I started to cry.

The Bay is wrapped in thick fog today, angel hair spread thin. Nothing is visible beyond the end of the pier—not the islands near the Eastern Shore, not the boats heading toward the ocean, or the small plane overhead that I could hear but not see.

Once again, I pleaded with the Lord to take away this thorn, this depression that descends on me unannounced. Don’t ask me to explain it, though I’ve lived with it and through it for a thousand years. I don’t try hard to hide it—that’s my newest approach. I freely admit it. People say, “What’s happening? Why are you depressed?” As if it needs a reason. Sometimes I try to tie it to something situational, but often there’s nothing new to blame. It’s just what is.

“Lord,” I pleaded, “Give me some hope. What do I have to live for?” Out of the fog, a large dead fish passed in front of me, its eyes empty and its entrails floating behind it. “Really, Lord? That’s it? A dead fish?”

My beautiful renovated house with a stunning view of the Chesapeake Bay is nearly finished and I have moved in. My drawers are organized, most of the boxes have been unpacked, and I’m sleeping in my own bed. Finally. I did it with a plan to live out the rest of my life here. It was a great idea, wise to plan ahead, to take charge of my own aging. But that creates a problem. My next step has been finalized. What’s next? Do I sit here in pandemic isolation waiting for the plan to continue to unfold until its inevitable end?

I stared out at the Bay, looking for God, seeing only dense fog. Yes, a brilliant metaphor, placed there by God to remind me that I was not meant to know the future. Maybe there’s something exciting beyond the fog that I can’t imagine. Maybe it’s all fog. Only the Lord knows. Yet the plans to escape spin in my head. I have to get out of here, move away from this beautiful place where I planned to live out my life. And there’s the problem—I want to run away from this plan for the final chapter of my life. It may make sense rationally to take charge of my future, but I’m not a planner, not a rational person. And I don’t what to say this is all I could ever want.

Thelma and Louise race toward the cliff. They have a plan to take charge of their own fate. They realize too late that maybe it’s not the best plan after all.

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