While on my journey today I encountered fog. There were warning signs, suggestions to turn on hazard lights, but perhaps the density had lifted a little by the time I got there. It was still thick enough in patches. Enough for me to slow down so I wasn’t hurtling into the unseen too quickly.
This reminded me of life. The unknowns, the fog, the challenges and traumas that come upon us without warning. Life. Every day is an unknown. Every moment. Like we’re hurtling into the fog of the future. Every day I just face the front and set out on my way, not knowing what I’ll encounter from one moment to the next. I trust my ability to handle ordinary stuff, and my past experiences and accomplishments reassure me that I have some useful tools in my toolkit to help me handle a wide range of happenings. But the truth remains, we never know what is just around the next corner, or what will suddenly appear out of the fog to challenge our expertise and skills.
On the road I turn on my headlights. Other motorists will be able to see me from behind or in front. I trust that others will also have their headlights on, but suddenly out of the grey fuzz one appears with no lights, silver in colour, and barely visible. I’m reminded to slow down even more, that all I can do is manage my own vehicle, my own speed, my own visibility. I watch the painted lines along both edges of my lane. I stay within, while I move cautiously forward in faith, not too fast, not too slow.
I’m reminded of what I’ve learned about those who are affected by the characteristics of autism. The anxiety they feel even when there’s no fog, or perhaps everything is fog to them. The fear of not knowing what’s next, the fear of not being able to recognise or read a situation, of not knowing which tool or strategy to use, not knowing which words are correct, not knowing how to negotiate something unfamiliar, not knowing what’s expected or not knowing that something is expected at all.
I appreciate afresh how distressing that must feel, and how lucky I am to be able to remember my past experiences and how I negotiated them, what worked, what failed and what to try next time. My tool kit is well stocked because of these experiences and the knowledge I have gained along the way. I feel confident that I will be able to manage a wide range of unexpected situations, even when other people are involved. For this I am thankful.
On the road, just having membership of a Motoring Association eases much anxiety if my vehicle were to fail or be damaged in some way. I can call them.
In life, I know I can reach out to a friend, a family member, a neighbour, a doctor, a therapist, a helpline or other service provider if I am facing a situation that stretches me beyond my repertoire of skills and resources.
A comforting thought as I remember the fog.
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