Heading out to New London the other evening, the darkness was shrouded in thick fog, all the way along I-95 and over the Gold Star Bridge. It took me back, way back, or, at least, cleared the way to retrieve something I wrote in 1983, when I worked as an editorial writer.
There were three of us handling daily editorials then, and customarily my two colleagues, Morgan McGinley, the editorial page editor, and Greg Stone, the deputy editor, wrote the serious ones. They were good at economics and politics and local shenanigans, worldly dilemmas and community relations. I usually handled the fluff, the lighter stuff, a shade or two, more often than not, just this side of relevance.
I wrote about family gatherings at Thanksgiving, celebrity antics, dance clubs in Groton with frog motifs, marketing Coca-Cola mutations, various and sundry cultural oddities, near and far, and, on occasion, things that mattered, such as elegies for good folk and praising good deeds.
After three years of writing editorials, the job as columnist opened up and I was onto more, well, aggressive things. But some of those editorials stayed with me. This, published on Nov. 10, 1983, is one:
Through the fog: Reflections on not knowing what is coming up ahead.
Heavy fog early today, around corners, above bridges, against windows, down roads, across fields, throughout the region. It was some fog. It gave a lot of us pause.
It’s not that there is not enough mystery in our lives. To know where to go never seems to require any less concentration, and even daily routines need attention. But to step out into an abundant morning fog and still try to make our way gives a particular sense of being truly on your own.
Traveling through such a fog is a study in faith, and extraordinary trust. You presume, for example, that the fog will lift very soon. You presume that anyone heading your way is using appropriate caution, the same appropriate caution. You presume that the legendary skill of tractor-trailer drivers is not a myth. You presume that no trees have fallen during the night to block the path. You presume the bridge, like the world, will not suddenly end.
You are in luck, the throes of luck.
These fogs also add a rare dimension to our lives. The romantics among us will be traveling through a cloud; the realists, through a mass of cooling air and increased moisture; the engineers, through a blockage of horizontal visual range, and the visionaries, through a nature that never fails to surprise.
These moments in the fog afford us the chance to examine our lives, to be in touch with our emotions, to appreciate the depth of our courage and our ability to survive, not to mention our ability to drive.
It is an opportunity, as well, especially at dawn or dusk, to think about the great balance of things. Just as many of us don’t remember whether you feed a fever and starve a cold, or exactly the opposite, there are those among us who don’t know whether you should use fog lights in fog or whether you should use your brights. What is the best way to brighten our way? How can we get a better glimpse of what’s ahead? And who is out there, anyway?
Such are the mysteries that surround us as we proceed on our own. The fogs of our condition are complex, and it is always an ennobling experience to come through them. But let us be thankful, in this instance, we don’t get too much of a good thing.
Steven Slosberg lives in Stonington and was a longtime reporter and columnist, and for three years, an editorial writer. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.