The Vaseline Jar
first published August 20, 2014
Have you ever walked through a fog so thick, you can barely see your feet as they hit the pavement in front of you? You might hear voices, traffic, the sounds of others’ footsteps, but you can see nothing but yourself.
This was my normal state of existence — enveloped in an opaque haze which never dissipated.
Or perhaps it was more like living in a Vaseline-covered jar. I could see what was immediately around me; that which was inside the jar. I could feel my own feelings clearly enough, but could not see my effect on the lives or feelings of others. Beyond my immediate surroundings, the world was fuzzy. My future and the possibility of change were all out there, beyond my reach, and always out of focus.
Every so often, someone would come close and enter into clarity for a brief while, but inevitably they would move out of range, beyond my ability to see them clearly; outside my ability to understand; beyond my comfort zone which I could not step outside in order to follow or give chase.
I was too afraid to pursue my dreams in that terra incognita for fear I would stumble and fall. I knew there was joy and peace out there, but they existed in the midst of dangers and demons I could not see, and to which I would not allow myself to become vulnerable.
And so I remained trapped in this bleak brume, trying to hack my way through like a blind person tentatively feeling their way around new surroundings; waving my hands, as if trying to clear the smoke out of a kitchen after a small grease fire without first bothering to put out the flames.
A few tried to lead me. Sometimes I would follow blindly for a while, clinging, but then the fear began to creep: What if they led me to a new, unfamiliar place and then abandoned me? I wouldn’t understand the rules. How would I cope in this strange landscape? I would be totally vulnerable.
I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone that much, least of all myself.
So there I remained, safe in my Vaseline jar; in my smoke-filled kitchen, in my pea-soup-dense fog. Just me and my imagination of how it could be out there if I only could.