Lake House Reflections

22 02 2015

Lake HouseStop posting? Silly of me. This is my passion, my therapy, my mission, my compulsion. I wrote that last entry in shut down mode, panicked by the fact that I could have been killed.

So here I am, once again, looking myself in the I. This time I am comfortably ensconced at “Clair de Loon”, my friend Laura’s house on Balch Lake. The lake is frozen, snowmobiles zipping back and forth past the bob houses. For those of you unfamiliar with this New England tradition, a bob house is headquarters for the serious ice fisherman, a portable shanty for storing gear and providing shelter out on the frozen waste. Good luck drilling through all the snow we’ve had this winter, plus the thick ice these cold temperatures have generated. The fish are down there, but you’d have to be some kind of dedicated to be dropping lines in this weather.

I’ve got a different kind of fishing to do, staring down through the dark ice, plumbing the depths of my own psyche.

#1, there’s the stark reality of the accident I had on the way home from Boskone, my car up on a snow bank with a tree shoved half-way up the engine block.  If I had lost control of the car at a different point, in traffic, on the highway instead of a rural back road, I could have died or been horribly injured, and taken who knows how many other people with me. As it was, the only casualty was my car, which was totaled, but I walked away from it. So they tell me. I can’t remember a thing.

#2: That I don’t remember scares me even more.  I don’t know why or when I started drinking on the drive home.  This was the second big convention in a month. I hadn’t really recovered from the first and here I was once again in the chaotic thick of it, dealing with the multiple pressures of running a book table, being on panels, taking advantage of promotional opportunities and constant social interaction. I started in with the anxiety meds to try to keep functional. And somewhere along the line, my conscious self checked out. I switched to autopilot.  It wasn’t just my car I lost control of.  I lost control of me.

So, here I am trying to figure it out, what went wrong, what I need to do to make sure it never happens again.  First, I shoved the Lorazepam into the back of the medicine cabinet with a shudder.  Also, I have not touched alcohol since.  I may never drink again. Friends have been very supportive, although they must be getting weary of my emotional crashes. They ask if they can help. Truth is, I’m the one who has to do the helping. It’s like the old joke about the Buddha telling the hot dog vendor, “Make me one with everything.” When the vendor tries to give him his change, the Buddha refuses, saying with a smile, “The change must come from within.”

Or the one about how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb: only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.

I am back to the process I began a couple years ago, got serious about at the cabin in Colebrook, and am now revisiting in a house on Balch Lake. Only this time it’s a matter of life and death.

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One response

22 02 2015
Mary Jolles

Kind of like running up against a guardrail in the dark, or those funny bumpy patches the highway puts along the shoulder to keep you from plunging off the road–sooner or later I imagine most people have moments like this: we’re brought up short by the unanticipated “edge of the world,” so to speak. What to do? Everyone must decide for themselves, as you say. Knowing you, I know you’ll come up with a sensible, workable plan that does not involve running gibbering away from every challenge, but lets you sail on toward your goals, confident that you can either change speed or direction as you approach the “event horizon” and thus not crash and burn. Does this mean goals are abandoned or changed? No, but the means to achieve them might change.

On Randy Pierce’s website, 2020 VisionQuest, I think it is, I watched his first ascent of Mt. Washington. Not “successful” in the traditional sense, but a learning experience for him and his team, and he came away with a resolve to both ascend and descend–the next time. A great 18-minute video! I recommend it because this was a blind hiker facing some realities about hiking blind that would put any sighted person completely off–but which he accepted and with careful planning was able to achieve his goal–just not in the “regular” way that everyone else does.

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