EMERGING FROM THE PERFECT FOG

The world can be so in your face. There are so few chances to feel fully and perfectly alone.

FOGGY days were made for introverts.

I was thinking this last week as I drove through the central highlands, unable to see more than a few feet in front of me – those fleeting glimpses of white line at the edge of the road my only connection the world.

It’s a strange blend of blind terror and blind faith – feeling that the road ahead could vanish and see you drive off into oblivion.

But I also love the comfort of being able to disappear into that foggy cocoon.

A rare chance to drift through the world like a chimera. Perhaps it’s a kind of becoming. Merging with the fog – embracing the fact that I’m 72.8 per cent water.

The world can be so in your face. There are so few chances to feel fully and perfectly alone.

We give such bad press to mist and fog and drizzle.

We’re so quick to label a day good or bad depending on what we discover when we part the curtains of a morning. 

But the weather – any weather – can be a kind of analgesic.  

On foggy days and nights I’m reminded of Mary Tyrone’s words in O’Neill’s play Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

“I really love fog. It hides you from the world and the world from you. No one can find or touch you any more. It feels damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.”

One of the great privileges of living in rural Australia is our unavoidable closeness to what Tim Winton calls the “seething tumult of nature”.

In central Victoria we’re lucky to live under a big sky.

We experience big rains, big droughts, big frosts, big storms.

Winter light can turn a grey Bendigo afternoon into something sacred, and when the sun sets, the vaulted ceiling of the night sky feels like the greatest of gifts.

I felt it the other night as I emerged from the fog – as if passing through a curtain – and found myself under a starry Bendigo sky. 

I thought of one of my favourite books, A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence Krauss’ s assertion that every atom in our body comes from a star that exploded.

It’s the point where poetry meets physics – the notion that we are all stardust.

“You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded,” Krauss says, “because all the things that matter for life –carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and iron – were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars.”

I pulled my car to the side of the road, wound down the window, and made a circle with my thumb and index finger.

Peering through that tiny aperture at the night sky I imagined 100,000 galaxies, containing billions of stars.

Supernovae exploding every single day.

It never makes me feel small. Just grateful for my brief moment in the sun.

John.holton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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