new year’s eve-
in the echo of fog horns
another voyage starts
– Keiko Izawa
I grew up on a small farm located about two miles from a bay in Puget Sound. When I awoke, I knew it was a foggy morning outside even before looking out my bedroom window. The fog horns located on coastal buildings and bobbing buoys scattered throughout the inlet would echo mournful moans and groans to warn freighter ships away from the rocky or muddy shallows. The resonant lowing of the horns carried miles over the surrounding landscape due to countless water particles in the fog transmitting sound waves so effectively. The louder the foghorn moan heard on our farm, the thicker the mist in the air. The horn voices would make me unspeakably sad for reasons I could never articulate.
Embarking on a voyage in blinding foggy conditions, just like starting a new year, portends both adventure and risk. Of course I’d prefer to see exactly where I am headed, carefully navigating with precise knowledge, eventually winding up exactly at my intended destination. The reality is that the future can be a murky mess. We cannot see what lies ahead: we navigate by our wits, by our best guess, but particularly by listening for the low-throated warnings coming from the rocky shores and shallows of those who have gone ahead of us.
I am still too easily lost in the fog of my fears–disconnected, afloat and circling aimlessly, searching for a touch point of purpose and direction. The isolation I sometimes feel may simply be my own self-absorbed state of mind, sucking me in deep until I’m soaked, dripping and shivering from the smothering gray. If only I might trust the fog horn voices, I could charge into the future undaunted, knowing there are others out there in the pea soup prepared to come alongside me as together we await the sun’s dissipation of the fog.
Now I know, almost sixty years into the voyage, fog does eventually clear so the journey continues on.
Even so, I will keep listening for the resonant voices of wisdom from shore, and now raise my voice to join in.
Instead of echoing the moans and groans of my childhood mornings, I will sing an anthem of hope and promise.
- photo by Nate Gibson