“My way is long, but the road is foggy, foggy.” ~Burning Spear.
South Florida weather can be funny this time of year. Some mornings you go outside to find a light drizzle of rain, and a cool touch to the air. Kind of like a typical English summer’s day! On Wednesday morning, I was on the road early, having to drive 40 miles to a weekly appointment in Boca Raton. Since my morning TV is not tuned to local news, I never know what to expect. That morning I was amazed to find myself ten miles along the Turnpike surrounded by fog. Which was different, and interesting, and since the traffic was not too bad I enjoyed the strangeness of the experience.
Until I realized I hadn’t seen my exit come up. The visibility had dropped to about (I’m guessing here) 20 yards, and I had to really pay attention. It is so easy to put your mind on auto pilot when driving – a dangerous thing to do. The next exit I saw was Atlantic Avenue, which I know comes before mine. Or does it? The next exit got me thinking, have I driven too far? So off the Turnpike I drove, into such dense fog and made a u-turn to go back south. Of course I could not figure out how to pull up the navigation app on my smart phone (smart phone + dumb operator = dumb phone!) and too late I realized there was no south bound ramp, and I headed off north, even further away from my true destination!
Which gave me plenty of time to think! I remembered the last time I was lost in the fog. When I was a young child living in England (maybe 5 or 6?), a pea-soup fog descended while we were in school. The teachers gathered us all in the auditorium, and would not let us leave unless collected by a parent. The mother of a classmate came and offered to take me home (she had a car, I was waiting to walk home with my mother and brother), so I found Andrew to ask him if I could go in the car. He told me no, I should wait for Mum. When Mum arrived, someone told her that they saw me go in the car with the others. So off they went in the fog, Andrew was probably quite upset with me for not doing as told.
Meanwhile I sat obediently waiting as every other child was picked up, wondering what was taking my mother so long! Soon I was the only child left, so my teacher took me into the classroom and started to read to me. Back home, my mother and Andrew were panicked to discover that I was not at home. They called the lady with the car who told them that they did not bring me, and now I was (as far as they were concerned) lost in the fog! I have no idea how long I waited, or how long it took everyone to realize that I was still at school, but in the end I was collected by my father (an unusual treat) and all was well. I remember the walk home in the fog; he carried me on his shoulders and told me stories as he walked, putting one foot in front of the other. In those days (before they instituted clean air acts) it would be so bad you could not see your hand in front of your face! Any buses on the road when the fog descended would drive slowly with the bus conductor walking beside the curb to let the driver know when they reached an intersection!
There are times in life when we cannot see far ahead, and we get through confusing times by putting one foot in front of the other. Although it is important to be careful, and take sensible precautions, our biggest challenge is to overcome the fear from within. With our vivid imagination, we can use a lot of energy creating scenarios and possibilities instead of just dealing with the actual problems as they arise, one at a time. We get caught up in the drama, triggering unhealthy physiologic responses. This may have been healthy when our ancestors needed to escape from saber-toothed tigers, but today the excessive outpouring of stress hormones takes its toll.
We don’t need to see the light at the end of the tunnel to know that it is there. We don’t need to know how long a particularly tough patch is going to last to know that we can get through it. When we find ourselves bogged down in trials and travails, having a positive outlook is a healthy way to react to it, it may even ensure a successful outcome! There are many studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of positive thinking and of the power of prayer. At the very least, being able to laugh at adversity releases the feel-good hormones that counteract the ones that harm.
So if you find your road so foggy foggy this morning, drive with care, but remember that the sun will burn through and lighten your day eventually, even if you can’t see it. The song quoted at the top of the page goes on to say “…my heart never leap, I never have no fear from within”. Ignoring the double negative, these are good words to live by, a reminder that most of our fear comes from within. And that is a place we have control of.
Have a wonderful weekend Family! Make your own sunshine! Tell jokes and stories to get you through hard times! Stay positive and walk good.