A Straw in the Wind

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When they reach the river they all find a clearing where the current seems to slow, but heavy lying mists obscure their sight. No judging distance to the farther bank, and anyone who steps into the flow immediately disappears, enveloped.

These souls submit to many difficulties. They find themselves in such a weakened state that progress is well-nigh impossible. Their reason is confounded; they can make no sense of what their eyes and ears reveal. At first their limbs cannot obey their will; their tongues are loose and inarticulate, and as they make their way they presently forget the feel of solid ground, the clear- eyed sight of that bright world where everything appears exactly as it is, the rest untroubled of the still place they have left.

How terrifying it must be, to labor uncertainly in swift and plunging currents ceaseless except for change, often deceived by shapes that loom nearby and disappear again into the dim, unsettling mist. Not one can see the hand before his face, or guess how far to reach the other side, though they tell many stories of that place to urge each other on. No one recalls his former state; confusion rules, and keeps each separated from his neighbor, though they often drift into another’s path, supposing greater distances from some nearby, and close proximities to others far away. Collisions can’t be helped but few can see them for the comedies they are. Though limited by ignorance, most are deadly serious about themselves.

Their greatest fear is to be swept away and lost forever in the surging waters, shrouded in mist, never to know a clear moment of peace and the relief of landfall. Some hesitate before they step into that current, draw back from its scudding edge, troubled by the unfamiliar, sensing consequences, holding for the most propitious moment, pausing at the thought of all they must abandon to begin the solitary trial they call life.