Thoughts, Reflections and Stories

One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star...
Massoud Abbasi

See Through the Fog

            The day began as always. Each day of life is brand new. We tend to forget this. This day was dedicated to a cause. Not all days are as such. Some days are meant to be and were sketched long ago, most are however merely random. Hence, when purposeful days are at hand, one should take heed of them.  The sky was overcast with not even the hint of an opening. A light wind whispered like siren calls heard by those delusional and lost at sea. How often do we hear the wind? How much do we miss in life because we aren’t listening? I walked on the particular paths and routes of which I was by now all too familiar. Habit and memory dictates more of life than does free will. Perhaps habit is free will stuck in repetition? Passing by all the grass, all the cement, all the above and all the below on my way to the island, I convinced myself I was in control of each and every step. I was walking towards that special place we all have and travel to in secret, whether daily, weekly or monthly, perhaps even yearly. We don’t share this place or spot with others, save maybe a lover or the passerby stranger. I walked until I was finally where I most wanted to be. It required me to take a ferry across the lake which was oddly quite empty for once. I was at the place where all plains merged with all planes of thought. Where the Moon meets the Sun, and night meets day.  I liked this place because although my thoughts remained dispersed my vision was untrammeled here. I could glean parts of the future here. I believed this wholeheartedly. It did not matter whether my conviction was right or wrong, it only mattered that I believed what I believed. Staring up I now saw the outline of a faint opening above that I had been hoping for. I quickly stepped forward to my resting spot, the old brown wooden bench which stood guard like a tiny citadel. Situated just at that point where water meets land, the water rippled towards me as it has since time, snaking forward and back perpetually in tune with its nature. I claimed this lake for myself. I sat now, staring at my dancing and careless friend in front of me as it creeped closer and closer towards me but never quite within reach of my feet. Land and water respect one another’s space; something man should learn to do more of with his own kind. The sound of it all was like a thousand brushes sweeping in unison. We were having our moment, the lake, the land and me, immersed in pure, calm existence. Until I was interrupted by a most unexpected guest: A child.

             “Hello” the young boy said as he approached me. I looked at him. “Hello” I finally bid him, knowing unexpected visitors in life are seldom without purpose. “May I sit?” he said to me next with a cute warmth. “Why yes” I responded with a smile, “of course you may sit, this bench is not mine, and it was here long before me.” The peculiar little boy sat down now rather quickly. We both sat still for a moment and said nothing. I stared at him and he stared straight ahead. Not much about him I could make out. He looked like Marco Polo, curly hair and all. He wore a twill outfit and had porcelain white skin. “What are you doing here?” I finally asked him. He did not respond. I continued to stare at him until I was interrupted by a drop of water falling on my head. Looking up a few more drops fell on my face now.  A light drizzle had commenced and I noticed now that the boy had put out his hand out to catch some drops himself. I smiled at this. “So are we just going to sit and become wet with rain?” He gestured for me to remain silent now by placing his finger against his lips and pointed next towards the sky ahead above the water.  “Look” he said now. I looked where he was pointing but could not see much of anything but clouds. “Look at what?” I said to him, confused. “Look, there in the opening!” he said with enthusiasm, a smile forming on his face as he continued staring ahead. I now began to discern a light fog that had begun to settle above the water. “All I see is fog young boy” I said to him. “Is that it?” He turned his head now slowly towards me and stared at me with a dropped look, as if I had disappointed him. “You don’t see it at all, do you?” he said to me next with a pout on his face, sad.  “See what?” I responded, “I only see the fog?” We stared at one another for a moment. His eyes reminded me of an earlier age and time, when the dirt of life had not yet settled on the lens of my eyes. “You really cannot see past it, can you?” he said to me again. I shook my head slightly now, confused.  “See past what young boy?” “The fog” he responded quickly, “see past the fog.” He turned his head now and sat still looking away. I was dumbfounded by the boy and his words. I began to wonder if I was hallucinating. What did he mean ‘see past the fog?’  That is impossible; it wouldn’t be fog if it was transparent. He had gone quiet and I decided to follow suit and leave it all be and sit calmly as I had come here to do at first. It was warm and moist today, comfortable. The rain had picked up slightly now, but it remained benign. Neither one of us seemed bothered by it. I looked directly ahead at the lake and onto the fog knowing full well that the city, that life was just beyond it on the other side, even if I could not see it. The fog was growing thicker, becoming like a floating paste, a deep haze. For some reason I liked it. I liked that it covered everything up like a blanket, like time. Every now and again it is important that we look away from life, if even for a moment, so that we can recapture it, appreciate it anew. After all, one cannot see what the shore line looks like whilst on land. We have to go far out on the water and look back at it to capture its appearance accurately, just as we cannot get an aerial picture without leaving the ground. It is the same with our lives. After several moments of quiet the boy disturbed my thoughts once more: “See through the fog!” His eyes had amazement in them now and sparkled as if laden with stardust, as if beholden to some great revelation. What was I supposed to say? I decided to go along with it now. “What do you see, young one?” He turned away from me again: “It would be better if you received it with your eyes rather than your ears.” How old was this child anyway, I thought now? Why did he speak like some old sage?  “What is there, past the fog?” I inquired now. “Clearly, I cannot see it like you can.” We both stared at the fog now but it was becoming more dense as if soot was being churned out of a giant furnace somewhere nearby. “Everything that was before” he responded now. “What was before?” I asked him. He looked at me, then back at the fog: “Calmness and fun are there, first lessons are there, new experiences and love are there and all such things in between.” What did he know of these things? He was no more than 6 or 7 years old I gathered, far too young to know about love. “Do you see” he said now with excitement once more, a smile forming on his face as he pointed yet again with glee. “Do you see?” All I could see was fog still. “There, over there” he pointed with excitement now in a new direction. “Oh, and there too” he said next, pointing in a different direction. I had looked to both places but saw nothing yet again but fog. I was growing weary of this silly search and strange boy. I stared at him now, and he at me. I shook my head to tell him that I saw nothing still. He looked disappointed. I was growing frustrated with myself. What the hell was I doing after all sitting here on a park bench under a light rainstorm with some strange young boy? He had turned back towards it now and was once again staring and smiling in its direction. “Hey” I shouted now clearly startling him. “I’m sorry, kid; I just don’t understand what’s happening here. I came here to sit and think, and you’ve made that impossible for me.” He looked at me now, straight, without expression. “That is your problem” he said. “Excuse me?” I responded, caught off guard. “You try to think through everything in life, rather than just using your eyes and heart instead of your mind from time to time.” He certainly didn’t speak like a child his age. “You cannot see past this bit of fog, yet you want so much more. You cannot even see what is directly in front of you, how do you then see yourself accurately?” I had grown speechless by now. What can one say in such a circumstance? He stood up now and grabbed my hand, looking at me with his green eyes. I was transfixed by his stare and gesture. “You do not see past it because you are using your mind, not your vision. You are looking at it as an adult, not as a child.” What the hell did that mean? “I don’t understand” I said to him. He paused for a moment: “You too were once my age, were you not? Then use those eyes and not the ones you have now and you will see present and future more clearly. With them you will see through the fog.” He now pulled my right hand up and pointed it in a certain direction and then looked back at me smiling as I stared in the direction he had picked for me, once more seeing nothing but fog. He then quickly let go and ran away in haste, slowly vanishing out of sight into the fog and onto the mainland of this island. I wanted to pursue him but could neither speak nor move. It took me a few minutes before I regained my composure but I was no longer sure of my state or what had just happened. Had I imagined the young boy? What did he mean see through the fog? What of this fog now which had enveloped everything around me? I thought and thought. Nothing came to me. I dropped my hands and placated myself, sitting there in quiet deliberation, staring at this mystical scenery wondering about the young boy and what he had said to me.

            Moments had passed me by like hours as I sat still in quiet solitude immersed in fog and rain. “Hello” I heard suddenly, startling me as I almost jumped off the bench turning around. “I’m sorry” the old man said to me now. “I was merely looking for a place to sit down and rest.” I wasn’t sure how long it had been since the boy had left; time didn’t seem to exist today. “Please” I said finally waking out of my stupor, “take a seat, Sir.” He smiled and sat to my left; the boy had sat to my right. “That young boy” I said to him now, “did you see him by any chance?” The old man looked at me with a confused look. “I’ve not seen anyone lately but you young man.” That was bizarre I thought, there was only one walkway to this particular spot, they would have crossed paths? “You’ve been here long?” he said to me now. I looked at him, his face wrinkled, his figure emaciated, his eyes deep with life. “Yes” I responded. “Doing what?” he asked next. “Thinking” I responded after a long stare. “Why?” he asked me next. “Well” I said, growing a bit irritated by his questions “Isn’t that what we do?”  He chuckled now, gently, like a sated soul whose belly is full. Perhaps he was senile, I thought. “Well, I’ve thought lots in my life” he declared. I waited for him to say something else but he did not. “And” I said to him next. “And what, young man?”  “Well, what is your conclusion, Sir, after all your life’s thinking?” There was a pause and silence now as we stared at another. He finally turned and stared at the fog: “Don’t think too much!” he said now with a faint smile. I had expected something more profound. I was disappointed. Don’t most people disappoint us? Don’t we often disappoint ourselves? “Isn’t it lovely” he said to me now still staring ahead. “What?” I asked him. “What’s lovely?” “All of that” he said now lifting his right hand to point ahead at the fog above the lake towards the city, just like the boy had done. It was like déjà vu for me, except now with someone much older. I didn’t know what to make of it. Perhaps I was hallucinating after all. It wouldn’t be the first time. “I don’t see anything there but fog, Sir” I finally responded. The old man turned to me now and spoke: “You must look through it, not at it.” Not again I thought to myself. “Look through what?” I said. “The fog of course, young man. Look through the fog.” A slight shiver ran through my neck and down my back now as I heard these words. The young boy had said the exact same thing to me earlier. “Who are you?” I said to him now raising my voice, sitting up straight and shifting my body slightly to my right. “Where is the young boy?”  He looked at me, confused. “Which boy?” he said as I stared at him now suspiciously, eyes wide open. “The one that was here before you, he said exactly the same thing to me.” He merely stared at me now, nodding his head in confusion. I was about to press on when just then I heard a faint rumble emanating from the clouds above and around. It was the sound that always precedes thunderstorms. It cut the tension of the moment and the man now looked back at the fog above the lake and pointed: “There, right there, don’t you see it?!” I looked eagerly but could see nothing, of course. This whole day was beginning to become a mystery to me. I felt as though I was in some ruse or delusional state.  The whole landscape was now shrouded in mist and fog. This whole day seemed like myth and mystery like the first few years of life. Looking over at the old man, he continued to stare ahead where I could see nothing. “What exactly do you see there, anyhow” I asked him now, desperate to get an idea for myself, desperate to get a grip on reality. He paused for a moment and just then a lone, white seagull came and flew past us nearly grazing the water. It barely made any noise, its wings cutting the air like silent scissors. He smiled and looked at me now: “I am old, I see everything. I see all that was before, the first lessons, the last mistakes, the past loves and everything in between.” The boy had said something similar. I ran my hands through my face now in frustration. “Please” I spoke now, imploringly, “tell me what’s going on here, Sir?” The old man looked at me, his brows furled with confusion. “What do you mean, young man?” “The boy that was here before you, he said something similar to me just a while ago?” He just stared at me. “Which boy?” There was a long pause now. Had I dreamt the boy up in my mind then? He genuinely did not seem to know who I was referring to. “What else do you see over there?” I asked him next losing my patience. He stared at me again for a moment. “What I see matters only to me, why does it concern you at all anyways? Why don’t you look for yourself?” I wasn’t sure of anything anymore, perhaps he was right, maybe I should just get up and go home. I felt defeated but curiosity is a powerful thing. “Please, just share with me, what do you actually see?” He stared at me for a moment; he must think I’m mad I thought. Maybe I am. “I see what I must” he said now with a long face, probably pitying me. “Just as you see what you must. Our eyes are not the same. You must see for yourself, young man.” “And what if I cannot?” I retorted. “If you persist, eventually you will. You must learn to focus, that is the key.”  Focus, I thought, that most beguiling ally of truth, that elusive apple on the furthest branch. “Have you ever used binoculars, young man” he asked me now. “Of course” I said. “What was most difficult about it?” I shrugged my shoulders. “Well” he began “binoculars do what they do naturally, all they require is two things, light and a steady hand. If you hold it still, the image becomes focused and you can see much further than is humanly possible.” I had never thought of it that way, but he was right. “You can’t see past the fog because your mind is too hurried and your hands are not still. Your mind is in constant flux and your body is in constant motion. Calm yourself, young man, it will amaze you how much and how far you will see then.” I had grown quiet by now, absorbing his words. Perhaps he had a point after all. Did they really see something I could not, this man, and the young boy? What was it that they saw anyhow? The future? That isn’t possible. I shook my head now, my thoughts overwhelmed me. This whole day was a head spin. Perhaps I needed more rest. I had not slept much the night before and felt lightheaded just now. “Are you alright young man?” the old man asked me now. “Yes, yes I’m fine” I responded. He then nodded and stood up. “Alright well my time here is done.” I looked up at him but could not say much. I reached up and we shook hands as he smiled at me and walked away in the same direction as the boy, vanishing slowly into the fog just as he had. At least that is how I recalled it, who knew anything anymore today. I sat still now, alone staring over the water. My breathing was now more paced, and I was beginning to enjoy the fog. See through the fog, they had both said to me, the old man and the boy. I could not, and I don’t think I wanted anymore. To hell with it all, maybe ignorance is bliss after all. I finally stood up after a long time sitting. I was more soaked than I had even noticed. My shoes were heavy. Each step I took felt as if I was lifting weights. My time here had expired. Everything in life has its allotted course and one should never stay longer than their allotted time. I made my way onto the path that had brought me to this bank, the same path the young boy and the old man had taken when they left me earlier. It lead towards the ferry which would take me across the water to the city again, and then back home.

            Having crossed the placid lake I was on the other side now. I took the tram the rest of the way home, quietly contemplating all that I had experienced on the island today. The encounters and conversations had left me fatigued and drowsy. I had almost missed my stop but luckily the driver woke me up. How did he know where I lived? I arrived at my modest 2 storey abode. Its red brick façade was wet and clammy. I lived on a quaint but lively street. The street was relatively empty however for a Saturday. Or was it Sunday? I honestly can’t even say I knew at that moment. I just wanted to go to sleep and put this day behind me. Opening my door I stepped in and finally my sight was clear again. There was no fog inside, to my relief. I proceeded up the creaking, wooden stairs and onto the hallway of the 2nd floor, turning right and walking towards the end of the hall before the blue door which lead to my room. My clothing was wet and I had left a water trail behind me. I opened the door and slowly stepped inside the room. My body stiffened as I did so. I froze. I noticed a figure sleeping on the bed turned away from me, a light white sheet pulled over them. Who the hell was in my bed, I thought to myself? The window was slightly open and I could hear the rain. The air inside this room was cooler and crisp than outside. I tepidly walked over to the bed, my heart beating faster with each step. As I veered on, my face turned awash with terror and I immediately fell back a few steps in retreat, unable to believe what I just saw. I felt my blood curl within me. It was me sleeping on the bed, but how could it be? Aghast and confused, I became petrified and stood stiff as a nail. “Hello again” I heard now in a familiar voice. Jumping, I turned in the direction from where it came and now stood facing the young boy from earlier. What the hell is going on, I thought to myself. How did he get in here? What was happening? I began to pace back slowly, but my feet were heavy as if immersed in thick molasses. “Calm down” he said to me without expression. I kept staring at him in shock. “How did you get in here?” Silence, he didn’t respond. “Well” I shouted now. “You let him in” I heard now from a different voice coming from behind me. I froze up again. Gently turning around, my extremities were tingling with trepidation. It was him, the older man from earlier in the day, seated beside my dresser and staring at me, also expressionless. “You let me in too. Do you not remember?” he said to me. My wits escaped me just now. I wanted to run but I could not, just as it happens in dreams sometimes. This thought captured me instantly. Perhaps I am dreaming? Could it be possible? Yes of course it could, and it would explain a lot. Was this all really my own creation, a figment of my subconscious playing tricks on me? I wouldn’t be the first. I closed my eyes now, overwhelmed and terrified. “This isn’t happening, it’s only a dream” I whispered to myself. "It's all just a dream."

        Opening my eyes slowly, I was staring straight at the white ceiling, lying down on my bed. Blinking several times, feeling groggy, I now quickly realized I was waking from a long dream. It felt more like a nightmare actually. For a moment I felt as if there were others in the room and quickly sprung up on the bed only to notice that I was alone. I took a deep breath and sighed. I pulled away the sheet and flung it to my right, turning to my left and dropping my feet on the ground. Checking the clock on the night table it said 3:43am but I knew that couldn’t be right as light was protruding from in between the blinds ahead of me to my right meaning that it was day. Probably broken, I figured. I yawned and finally stood up, feeling light headed from the blood pooling. My head felt heavy as if I had a hangover, but I knew I had not drank last night. My dreams, what were they about? I remember pieces of them, a young boy, a rainstorm, a bench, but not much more. I stepped over to the window now and slowly pulled up the blinds. I wish I hadn’t. It was a dreary day outside: overcast and light rain with some form of mist upon the land. It was eerily quiet. Something felt off about it all. I yawned once more now and as I brought my head back down I was caught off guard and became frozen as I witnessed two individuals at the bottom of my street standing still and staring at me. I squinted to get a better look. I blinked several times to make sure I was not imagining them. I was not. They were there. An older man holding a young boy’s hand. I had no idea who they were, but I felt as though I had met them somewhere? Were they my neighbours? Perhaps someone I worked with but did not know? Even so, why were they standing there staring at me through my bedroom window? What is going on, I thought to myself?  Then something even more bizarre began to occur. The fine mist slowly began to settle and as it did it covered them up both until finally I could make them out no more. My heart began to race now as I noticed the same happening to the homes. Then it happened to the whole street and as I looked up above the houses towards the city I was unable to see anything where normally great, tall buildings stood. This mist, this fog had permeated the whole city. Panicking, my eyes began to dart all over now, looking for anything outside of my window but I could see nothing, absolutely nothing but mist and fog. I turned around quickly to my right now and ran to the other side of my room where there was a smaller window. It was exactly the same through that window, nothing but grey fog. My heart was racing now and I was in utter disbelief about what was happening. I breathed heavily but not well. “What the hell is going on? Why can’t I see anything?” I said to myself now. “What is happening to me?” I shouted. Closing my eyes, as if doing so would make it all better, I experienced the most profound shock yet - I heard my own voice coming from behind me. “You can see” it said to me now as I stood fixed like a pole in cement. I must be imagining it, I convinced myself. “You can see everything” I heard again now. Without a doubt it was my voice. I slowly I forced myself to rotate my body until I stood facing my bed again. Much to my own disbelief, I stood facing myself now. I was completely frozen and petrified. My rational mind had by now escaped me or was in hiding. This moment was impossible. “You can see” I said to myself now from on the bed. “What can I see?” I asked myself. “You know” I responded. “No, I don’t” I said back to myself. “Yes, you do” I retorted again. I paused for a moment as I stared at myself. Finally I spoke: “The fog?” I smiled at myself and spoke: “See through the fog!”

            My eyes sprang open now and I sat up quickly  as if there had been a loud knock outside my door. Breathing heavily my chest was heaving as I sought recapture my composure coming out of a deep slumber and clearly a deep dream. I pulled my sheet off me and flung them to my right and sat at the side of the bed, placing my feet firmly on the ground. As my breathing slowly became more regular I dropped my head into my hands which were resting on my knees now. “Wow” I whispered. The astonishing power of my subconscious had humbled me. What had I been dreaming about? I couldn’t quite remember now but I did recall one particular line that rang in my ears just now: “See through the fog.” Who had said that to me? I noticed now lines of light on the floor, protruding from in between the blinds. I lifted my head towards it now and saw beams of Sun shining through. I stood up gently, feeling a bit dizzy, and then walked over to the window. “See through the fog”, the words kept repeating themselves in my mind. “What did that mean?” I pulled the blind up and closed my eyes right away as the light overwhelmed them at first. Slowly opening them up again, I stood staring at a beautiful, clear blue sky. The neighbourhood was alive with activity and people. And of course the Sun was far off above it all in the sky, beaming down proudly. A light smile formed on my face as I was happy to be awake and bearing witness to a splendid day. Today felt different already. All my troubles seemed far away. I even felt like I had some direction finally. I didn’t focus on my worries and burdens as I usually did upon waking. Of course they hadn’t disappeared, they were still there and I knew this in the back of my mind, but they seemed less important to me just now. I felt as though I could get around to them later. For once I felt as though I could see beyond them, move beyond the noise to a place of clarity and calm. For once I felt in control, as if I knew everything would be alright. Why such an optimism today? What had I dreamed the previous night? I could not quite remember just now, try as I did, but one thing I did recall. It rippled across my mind now like echoes between mountain ranges: See through the fog…

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08.12 | 12:21

Good reflexions and philosophy
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25.01 | 15:17

Profound with a lot of philosophical insights. I love the admonition of never abdicating the future. Thanks for sharing.

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06.07 | 19:41

Wow, this is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Love & Peace.

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19.03 | 05:49

Amazing to read and thank you for some beautiful insights.

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