For the last several months, it seems like every time I get in the car for a long drive it starts to pour.  Last Friday I drove through the most intense rain I’ve ever driven through.  It was actually pretty scary: when I got out of the car I realized my hands hurt from gripping the wheel, which I hadn’t even noticed I had been doing.  My jaw hurt from being tensed.  There was also thunder and lightning.  Which I normally  love, but when making my way down the highway surrounded by trucks barreling above the speed limit, not so much.

The wipers were going as fast as they could go, and still it was not nearly enough.  I noticed that just the fact that my wipers were on high made my body tense slightly and my anxiety tick up.  I felt a tightness in my chest, there was a slight aggravation in my voice and a quickness to my breathing, all almost imperceptible but not to me anymore now that I can’t help but notice everything.  It stresses me to not have any reserve.  If it’s not enough, these wipers on high, there is nothing else I can do.  Well, other than pull over.  This reminds me of my behavior when physically challenged, of the way I get nervous anticipating that I might not be able to do something (but well before I am actually at my limit).

And the other than pull over part is, I think, essential to the stress.  When the wipers really can’t do the job, even on their fastest setting, I have to figure out another way.  It is the universe telling me – through rain, literal or metaphorical – that the current coping system is no longer working to deal with the weather.  And realizing that I’m running out of rope, or that my road is coming to a bend, or choose your own metaphor … well, all of these things scare me.  A lot.

My wipers are going really hard right now in my life.  I’m definitely at the fastest speed and I’m not sure it’s enough.  There is a lot sluicing down on my windshield: worries about both my parents and my children, anxieties personal and professional, fears of many flavors.  The concerns are sloshing around, occluding my vision, and no matter how hard my wipers go I can’t see the road ahead clearly.

Recently I heard a doctor say that a situation had to stabilize before he could even remotely figure out what was going on.  The underlying issue would not “announce itself,” he maintained, until the rest of the surrounding flux settled down.  This made sense to me and immediately my mind began to spin it into a metaphor.

Maybe it’s time to pull over.  I just don’t know what that looks like, and furthermore I’m not certain I can, given the forward propulsion to some of the things that are raining down in front of me.  Of course Doctorow’s famous words come to mind: “You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  I try not to think that I can’t even see a fraction as far as my headlights.  I can only inch forward, hoping that reckoning will keep me safe on the path.


And it recurs: there is nothing to do but to trust.  And to let go.  Even as my wipers frantically flip back and forth, and as I walk with anxiety in my chest for the mere fact of their speed.  Even so.

13 thoughts on “wipers”

  1. Oh friend, I can feel the anxiety, the fears of many flavors through your writing. And while I (as usual) have no answers, I just want to say that I so appreciate your honest, authentic response to the downpours in your life. May peace and reassurance find you, even in the storm.

  2. trusting allows…allows the revealing to happen in its own time. yes, i know this to be true in my head, but the waiting, trusting, having faith bit can be quite excruciating in my heart/body. to have nothing to do but surrender is one of my most challenging life lessons. xo

  3. This is what I am feeling. Exactly, precisely.

    And I know it is not just us – it seems as if there is something going on – beyond the full moon rising – that is simultaneously pulling us in and washing over us.

    So much raining down.

    Thank you.

  4. In Zen, we call it the “monkey mind.” Our minds tumble about, moving restlessly, preventing us from from seeing clearly.

    Only when the mind is quiet can insight be heard.

  5. As always I can’t decide how to respond. You trigger so much. One of my first thoughts when reading about driving in the rain was….did you think of that passage in Planting Dandelions? again! About how we used to think our parents had all the answers and really, maybe, they didn’t?

    I like your analogy about the doctor needing things to stabilize, and I liked what you wrote a day or so ago about being in the throws of a wave, and not being able to define the changes yet, but knowing they need to come. (Or thats what I took if I don’t remember it exactly.)

    When you wrote there is alot sluicing down your windshields, my first thoughts were that you seem to have it all together – writing beautifully daily, good quality times with kids, not overscheduling them, good friends, recognizing the beauty in every day….but I quickly put these thoughts out and remembered that nothing is as it seems and we are all on a path together.

    I am having a “Take back my family” fall thisyear – scheduling no kids activities, scheduling family time…..probably all the things you already do….and I was thinking it would all be perfect after this shift. But it is always a journey, isn’t it?

  6. Hoping/praying that your headlights offer laser-sharp vision in this storm, casting light on the very thing(s) you most need to see; the guidance that will most surely bring you to a place of warmth, rest, and ease.

    Much love, Lindsey.

  7. Expedient pace aside for a moment your accomplishments in terms of educational, professional, and family are the substance of storybooks and just what many of my friends here at the University hope to achieve when they are recollecting just as you are. You inspire us to succeed.

  8. once again, thank you for so beautufully elucidating the place I often find myself but cannot name. I am always “hanging in there” and just hoping things – meaning my fears- will calm down. Trust is a constant process and so difficult. I think it takes a few lifetimes. I know it’s not a comfort but you have comforted me. Thank you!

  9. Lindsey, Your image of the wipers on overdrive and still not getting the job done is incredibly apt — and poignant. I remember Rolf talking, years ago, about something he learned as an EMT: the worst mistake you could make was to rush into a crisis and start DOING things; the best thing you could do was to stop, look things over in a very deliberate way, and then take the simplest, most obvious action. Given our frenetic, crisis-driven lives, this sounds like pretty good everyday advice for all of us. There are so many things we can’t control; thank goodness we do have a choice about how we respond to the stuff life hurls at us. Wishing you a bit more peace and ease in the days ahead. May your wipers slow down at least to “intermittent.”

  10. Lindsey, Your metaphor of wipers on the highest setting is not only beautiful and true, it’s downright helpful. I’m sure I’ll turn to it again and again, as I do to Doctorow’s image of the headlights. I hope you can find a way to pull over and, if not wait out the storm, at least take a rest from driving through the thick of it. Hang in there. Wishing you a clear windshield soon.

  11. So aptly put and so appropriate for me. I cannot pull over because life needs to continue on. I cannot pull over because it will fill me with a sense of failure.

  12. I know you are speaking in deep metaphor, and I know in real life, I often keep going though I cannot see for all that is coming at me. I forget to slow down even.

    But, I remember a long ago road trip with a friend. We were headed to New Orleans, and found ourselves in a torrential rain in Baton Rouge. I was driving, unable to see the car two feet in front of me. But, all of us cars were trying to keep going, reduced to 15-20 miles an hour! The absurdity finally struck me and I pulled over, under a gas station roof. It was only then that I noticed the stress and strain draining slowly out of me. And still, I wondered if my friend would think me somehow weak for needing to stop.

    I hope you can find a shelter, at least for a brief reprieve.

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