The other morning when I left the house for work I could barely see a few car lengths in front of me. In places where I can normally see about a quarter mile in the distance, were blocked by a huge cloud that had settled down on the city. Although fog doesn’t provide particularly safe driving conditions, I’ve always been fascinated by the effect. Knowing that I’m inside a cloud is so cool – what usually appears very far away in the sky is now right here next to me.
The thing about fog though is that you can’t always see what’s coming. If you’re driving too fast, you may come upon a car and not have time to stop. Or, if you are driving a different route, you may not know where to swerve to avoid the potholes. The fog reduces our vision.
I know I’ve written about this before and I’ll probably write about it again… we like to think we can see or plan or anticipate our future. I like to think I can see or plan or anticipate my future. I like to think I know what’s next around the bend. I like to think I’m in control.
It turns out we’re all living in one big cloud.
I can’t see my future anymore than I can see the grocery store just a block ahead on a foggy morning. Generally speaking, life is pretty much the same every day. I get up. I go to work. I come home. I walk the dog. Etcetera etcetera. But, amidst those routines, something different that pops up.
The morning before all the fog I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. I watched it as I pulled out of the driveway and along the side of my car and when I turned east I watched it through my rearview mirror. I watched it shine beautiful light on buildings in front of me and I watched it add pink shadows to the bottoms of the fluffy clouds. I had no idea that stunning sunrise was coming. It was a complete surprise.
Yesterday I had no idea when I walked into work that there was a possibility that the speaker we’re bringing in for a lecture tomorrow was going to be stuck in NYC. We scrambled to create a backup plan then celebrated when his flight was changed to beat the storm. We scrambled to find a hotel room two days early (apparently a work truck convention took over downtown?!). By the time I left work I was worn out. Everything I handled yesterday was a complete surprise.
I’m telling you, I’m living in one big cloud and each next step is a complete surprise.
So, when I opened Facebook this morning I had no idea I was going to see one of my former youth announce that she has a baby on the way.
I didn’t see that coming. It was a complete surprise. I took a step in this cloud and ran right into her happy news. But it didn’t make me happy. I had to unfollow her. I just couldn’t do it.
None of this life is predictable. Good things that I’m not expecting happen all the time. Hard things I’m not expecting happen all the time. All of these unexpected things are coming my way as I slowly walk through this cloud.
In some ways, it’s really exciting! To see how the sun will rise, to hear which birds are singing, to watch Denali get a burst of energy, to hear my nieces say new words, to watch my nephew shoot a basket, to see the bulbs growing… there is so much life to…life! 🙂
However, it’s not all exciting, it’s not all warm and fuzzy. There are moments when I just can’t believe this is how my life turned out. Don’t get me wrong – I have a good life. A great life. But, it’s also not the life I expected, the life I longed for.
I’m currently reading Mary Oliver poems in the morning. Today I read “The Kingfisher.” This line stood out to me:
I think this is the prettiest world – so long as you don’t mind a little dying, how could there be a day in your whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?
That was worthy of writing down in my journal.
A consequence of life is death. That’s not something we can work around. It’s inevitable. However, that’s not all there is.
I’ll never be able to escape the pregnant bellies or the parent talk or the sleeping infants in strollers. That’s part of life. It’s inevitable. However, that’s not all there is.
I know I’m going to keep bumping up against things while I’m walking through this cloud. There will be things I’m not expecting, things that will catch me off guard. The gift that I’m learning as I bump into these unexpected surprises is how to allow myself to feel, respond in a way that’s true to my feelings but also respectful to others, and move on when I’m ready.
Today I felt sad and unfollowed this person. Then I sent a text to a dear friend who would understand exactly how I felt. I sat with all of that for a while, then I moved forward. I still see that announcement in my mind occasionally, but it will slowly drift away to be replaced by nieces celebrating their birthdays and my brother’s big smile and a candle burning brightly.
I don’t mind the fog, really. It reminds me of what I forget is true – each moment, each day is unknown until I bump into it.