Often you wake up in a fog.
Sometimes you willingly go into that fog.
Usually you find the fog was veiling beauty.
That was my experience this morning. Well, I won’t say I woke up in a figurative fog today, but I’ve been there plenty of other times. No, today I woke up to a literal fog. And I decided to go for a run in it.
What I learned along the way can be summarized simply: sometimes you have to willingly choose to run into the fog.
Here’s the thing, the fog may not be literal and so the running doesn’t need to be either. But rather than doing what we normally do when we encounter fog, we can choose to go purposely, actively, and with great effort, into it.
How do we normally react when we encounter fog? We tread slowly, cautiously — that is, if we move forward at all. Sometimes we just take it as an obstacle that can’t be crossed. So we turn around. And maybe even run in the other direction.
But what if we wake in the fog? That’s a different beast, right? Because in those times we have no sense of direction, no bearing, we don’t even know where we are, let alone which way we should go. We freeze, paralyzed by the idea that we’re lost. And it is that sense of loss of direction that makes us feel lost. The reality is, we still know where we are even if we don’t know which way we should head.
But when we stand outside the fog — as I did this morning — and when we can see it settled out across the path in front of us, what’s to keep us from running into it? Is it the idea that what’s ahead is unknown?
I’ve got to tell you, the unknown is a thing that has paralyzed me, crippled me, and kept me from moving forward for much of my life. The fog felt like an uncrossable physical barrier and so I turned back.
Back to what? To what was known, familiar, safe. But there is no discovery there. Nothing new. No adventure. And often, just fear masked as comfort.
Today I ran into the fog, and as I did, I found the fog was not an obstacle, but a veil. Hidden in it were not dangerous and threatening pitfalls, but beauty. And beauty as such that does not exist apart from the fog.
No, in fact, the fog was not only a veil, hiding what lay beyond it, but a filter through which everything was mystery and magical and wonder.
And while my intent was to run through the fog, I had to stop myself from constant pausing to pull my camera and capture each nuance of light, shadow, mist and contrast I encountered.
I had been in this place before, but it was different then. There had been only blazing sun — and then there was a brightness and dare I say glory to it all. But even that brightness and that glory were common.
So the trail, the terrain, the environment weren’t new themselves, but it was all completely new through the filter of the fog.
And it was beautiful. The light lay in contours and contrasts and a shroud that fostered awe and wonder in me.
It has been a long time since I felt those things. Awe and wonder are fleeting in the rush of life and busyness and hustle. The fog slowed my reality even as my legs moved swiftly over the trail.
And so I realize fog is precisely the thing we need to become a veil, a shroud, even an obstacle in our lives. Not to keep us from moving forward, but to keep us from missing what’s in front of us. It gives us pause and the sense we need in order to see the beauty around us and begin to drop our jaw in awe and wipe tears that flow not from fear, but from wonder.
By the end of the run my face and beard were wet — with sweat, with tears, with fog, with wonder.