Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you have had a similar experience of being suddenly awakened by silence.
Fog can be a menace. Planes are grounded, travel is delayed, the world is at fog’s mercy, slowing its pace until the heavy cloud eventually decides to move on – in its own good time. Fog, for something so intangible, is quite unmovable; so when it arrives, all we can do is wait.
I’ve been doing a lot of waiting this year. A fog has settled in and around my life and I’ve been stuck in a holding pattern, pleading for the fog to lift so I can just move on and move forward. It hasn’t lifted yet. For someone who is usually so in tune with silence, and regularly seeks out quiet meditative moments, I struggled almost immediately with the whitespace. I felt panic, and worse, my usual tools to help me bide my time were gone, vanished, swallowed up by the fog – stolen by the very thing that was causing me so much angst.
It’s been an awful year and I haven’t always handled it well.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, wrote in her most recent book for creatives, called Big Magic, “interesting outcomes, after all, are just awful outcomes with the volume of drama turned way down.”
So: It’s been an interesting year and I haven’t given up yet.
I’ve experienced a lot of failures over the past 12 months that have added to my frustration, but I haven’t let any of them destroy me. I’ve come close a time or two, okay maybe quite a few times, but here I am, beginning again. Again. And by the looks of it, I will have to begin again 1,000 times more because this being a beginner stuff is not easy.
I remain, after more than a year, waiting for the fog to lift, and it is still incredibly hard. I’ve been in a constant state of adjusting and adapting and I continue to wait for a diagnosis on my vision that I’ve become certain will never come. Not to mention the thousand other stressors that steal my sense of stability daily. I am waiting to feel the peace and security that I felt before the fog came in, and I’m looking for new ways to entertain myself and cope with these awful, ahem, “interesting” emotions until I get through this. However, I have a feeling that I should no longer be waiting for the fog to lift but be waiting for my eyes to adjust to the new normal.
Fog is not purely and simply a menace; it is also beautiful. I have stood at the feet of rolling fog that undulates like it has a breath of its own. I have peered out over mountain vistas to valleys of fog below, breathing in the cool droplets myself and soaking in the beauty. Fog is beautiful from a distance, and I need to remember that just as much when I am in the thick of it. So often we try to live through the fog as if it’s not really there. When we stop denying its presence, stop fighting its existence, we are free to explore, adapt, and grow.
“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.” – Barbara Brown Taylor
There is so much to learn here, I’m sure of it. I very much want to feel stable and certain again, but contrary to what I want to believe, that is not where I will discover my growth. I can’t skip these pivotal steps that carry me an inch at a time. I have to avoid the shortcuts, or I just end up on the other side looking for a way back through.
Secondly, I’ve become quite enthralled with mandala work. Initially, the circular confines helped me to not feel overwhelmed by a page that was taunting me for not being the artist I once was. The mandala has been a safe place to explore and play without taking myself too seriously, and it has offered me a fantastic learning curve (forgive the pun). Lately, these mandala explorations have been evolving into something I am hoping to expand upon, and I have just recently begun the process of honing my skills in watercolor and ink. My new style focuses on capturing the overall sense of an image as opposed to the intimate detailed account which I am previously known for. Seeing beauty through the fog. The bold lines of a pen are easier for me to follow and manipulate, and I love how watercolors can fill a space on their own and create whimsical little details that I am not currently capable of making. Watercolor itself is much like fog – taking on a life of its own and filling the space however it pleases. When you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
When you enter into a fog, a place that was once so familiar becomes immediately more threatening and uncertain. But if I remind myself that I have walked these paths before, and my hand remembers what to do with a pen regardless of the fear of what I can’t see, then I can begin to thrive and grow. In fact, I’m already starting to notice less of what I can’t see, and more of what I can.