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Living With the Fog of Life

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Uncertainty is rife at the moment creating tension, fear and anxiety about the future. It’s natural to want to know where we stand and what the future holds. We need to know that what we see as our basic needs will be met.

The “fog of war” is a phrase that can be applied to life as well. The fog of war is the “difficulty in determining facts amid the chaos surrounding warfare or crisis” (U.S. Army Lieutenant).

When crisis comes into our civilian lives or if we fear its imminent arrival we also need to determine the facts amid the chaos. Questions like “How am I going to be able to pay the bills? What does the future hold? Am I going to be OK? Do I go for the same type of job or make the change I’ve always wanted to? Have I the courage to follow my heart and ignore what I’ve always believed to be true about myself?”

The fog of life represents all that the human mind fears, i.e. uncertainty and change. But we are so much more than a mind whose first purpose is to protect us from what it sees as danger and puts happiness and fulfillment way down its list of priorities. But the heart needs to be heard too.

Uncertainty is the space between times we when think things are OK; the gap between solid stepping stones. When we are in that fog of uncertainty we’re between stepping stones. We may feel lost and scared that there is no future because we cannot see it or sense what it will be like.  However, it’s always there waiting. The more we resist, the longer the journey through it can be.

Paddling upstream in a panic is the natural thing to do when it feels like the canoe you ’re in is heading for the rapids. Calm waters lie beyond the turbulence and things may be more beautiful than the view you have had up until now and the current of life wants to take you there. Sometimes the best thing to do is to throw the paddles out of the boat, lie back and let the flow of change take you. It’s counter-intuitive and a hard thing to do.

I would still be struggling in my stressful career as an engineer if I hadn’t endured years of ill-health with ME. In my canoe, I felt like I was on the edge of a steep waterfall of change and catstrophe and the only way back was upstream because ruin lay ahead. Most of those years were wasted because I was hell bent on trying to get back to where I was before I was ill. I was paddling upstream and resisting the current of life. Where I had always been wasn’t right for me but I wasn’t aware of it and would have seen little alternative anyway. Looking back there were signs all along but I ignored them. In the end, life ceased whispering to me to go in a different direction and shouted STOP in a way that I couldn’t ignore. The more we stay in denial the harder the lessons become.

Human nature is to stay in our comfort zones no matter how limiting or miserable it may make our lives. However, the best that we can be lies outside our comfort zones. When a life crisis dumps us unceremoniously into the fog we often find resources we “knew” we didn’t have.

Learning to feeling comfortable in the fog and trusting that what lies ahead is OK is one hell of a challenge but it doesn’t make it any less true. Who knows, life may well be trying to rearrange things to give you just what you’ve always wanted and it would be churlish to say no, wouldn’t it?

 

 

© Phil Grant unless otherwise attributed