Thursday, January 31, 2008

Homeostasis by Kat Magendie

The road is narrow and curving, some snow still visible in the higher elevations. Roger is driving, and from the passenger side, I can see where the road drops away with nothing between our car and what looks to be a thousand foot drop. We slow to make a particularly sharp curve, easyeasy. A truck approaches. We pull over to a stop to let them by, and eye each other as they pass, smiles on our faces, waving that one-hand “hi there” wave strangers but locals give each other. Then, we're off again, winding, curving to our destination.

I have the realization that I'm not grasping the seat or gritting my teeth. I've become used to driving in these mountains, exploring the little-used roads and the steep drop-offs where there's nothing between me and a tumbling ride toward the bottom of a mountain, unless the trees stop me, that is. When I first moved here, I was tense, nervous on mountain roads that weren’t even close to this perceived danger. Homeostasis. Our mind-body smartly adjusts so we can relate to our environment in a way that is not constantly in a state of fear or dread or anxiety. This is the same area I visited three and a half years ago—only I have changed.

I wonder. How much have I adjusted to in my life? What kinds of things were once scary, maddening, or anxiety-producing that I no longer react strongly to? Are there important things I'm missing just by a seemingly complacent attitude? Or rather, this is just life—live it the best way I can; live it with gratitude...ONWARD HO and YEEHAW! Just as I'm about to do the mental pump-fist-in-the-air, we hit a small patch of ice and our Subaru fishtails—I tense, wait for the bad to come, and when it doesn't, I relax. Up ahead, a car inches along, and when they pull over to let us pass, the occupants’ faces are frozen in fear. I grin. I wave. I relate to them—hey, give it time, you’ll adjust, OR! you'll go back home and kiss the ground you came from.


Angie Ledbetter said...

No ma'am. I'm a ground kisser, thanks. Enjoyed your post!

Barbara Quinn said...

Ah, that rolling with the punches is all part of the balance dance we do each day. Better to bend than break, but boy, it's a challenge. I'm very much a "don't look back" person. Hell, it's that fear of turning into a pillar of salt!

Nannette Croce said...


This reminds me of our first trip out west in Montana. My daughter, who was five at the time and blissfully oblivious of the hairpin turns from her back seat perspective, loaned me her Raggedy Ann to keep in front of my face. I still don't do mountains well, but there are a wealth of other things I've not only grown used to, but come to like.

Mary Ann said...

" . . .their faces frozen in fear" =
That's where you once were. I've never even been on a mountain (unless you count rolling down the Blue Ridges forty years ago). Look at your forward movement; no restraining forces get you.

Kat complacent? This doesn't compute. Your descriptions of spring, summer, autumn, winter in the Great Mountains stop one's breath. You are writing true.

Got any sugar sand and aqua ocean up there? Warm? Pool boys? One might have to give it a try.

Beautiful. We adjust. Life is a balancing act. Everything unfolds as it should. There is a design.


Kathryn Magendie said...

MA - NC has it all - our coast has the sand and warmth and ocean! and we even have some "flat" areas - sure we do! *laugh*

thank you for the beautiful comment.

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