A little after six o’clock the other morning, I went out for my daily walk. I stepped out of the house and into thick fog.
This was new.
As I walked through the neighborhood, I found that the fog blunted all edges. The lines of the houses and the leaves of the trees were indistinct, the bird calls muffled. When I was a kid, I used to press my face up against the mist coming out of the humidifier that ran perpetually in my baby sister’s room. The fog in my nose had the same feel and smell of that humidifier air.
I crossed the street and couldn’t see more than ten yards in either direction. With the sharp edges of my senses shaved off, I stepped into the road trusting that approaching cars would have their lights on or that the sound of an engine would reach my ears through the fog in time for me to change my course.
Safely on the other side of the road, I thought how looking into that thick fog is similar to contemplating my future. I’m traveling familiar paths, and I have an idea of where I want to get to, but the here-to-there is obscured. I wondered why I felt so safe in the fog and so confident in my ability to detect danger and act on it in time, while the fog of uncertainty in my life leaves me anxious and clinging to the familiar.
Maybe the difference is speed. Fog is scarier when I’m driving. On foot, I was traveling slowly enough and with enough awareness that I was confident I could spot potential dangers before they were true threats.
Maybe the fog of my future frightens me because I’m traveling too quickly through my life and without enough awareness. If I slowed down and listened and looked and smelled, maybe I could let the uncertainty embrace me like the fog did on my walk. Maybe then I could feel the unknown brush against my skin and tickle my throat and condense on my hair and know that the path I’ve chosen, the one I’m traveling step by step, is the safe path and the right path for me, even if I can’t see beyond a few yards ahead.