Swimming in the Fog: Descent into the Fog, Return into the Light
It's hard to imagine nature mirroring more profoundly a common mental, inner process than this morning's walk and swim in the sea. Who doesn't experience 'mental fog' from time to time, ie, a lack of clarity, vision or feel overwhelmed by doubt?
This sequence of four photos focused on the same view show my descent into the fog. At first the mountain is crisp and clear but progressively I lose sight of the mountain until it is totally obscure. But below the fog, is the sea, covered in mist. My vision is impaired but I can perceive it through my other senses - I hear the gentle roar, smell the salt on the air, feel it on my skin. Sometimes I feel like that, that what seemed clear and reasonable now makes no sense and I can't find my way, see the light but I must keep trusting my sense and feel my way along through the fog.
I reach the boardwalk and I can still perceive the sea but fog surrounds me. I keep trusting the path, I know the way. I've been here before and my other senses will guide me. Will I see the light again? Yes, of course. Just keep trusting. Everything passes.
Cresting the dune, I can see only the edge of the coast and I have no clear vision of the sea and its state. Where to swim? What action to take? How should I move ahead today when I can't see anything well? I walk down to the edge of the shore below the tide line. I sit down and decide to be still, observe and simply 'be' with the sea and this moment. The gentle roar of the rhythmic waves soothe me. Sea mist dampens my hair. I feel grateful sitting here in the mist doing nothing simply enjoying nature's bounty which has cut me off from my vision.
My reverie is broken by a bounding dog coming down the beach off the boardwalk. A cute, brutish, enthusiastic fellow greets me and makes me smile. I see two young guys, probably surfers, looking into the fog but, of course, there is nothing to see. I get up and move down the coast through the fog to The Place in Between and then Mermaid Cove.
Mermaid Cove is often my go-to, rough conditions spot as I know through experience what it looks like below the surface, where the rocks are, where the deeper places are and that the tidal pools are mostly protected from the direct surf. I swim in the fog. It's okay. I don't need to see everything, just where I am, right in front of me. I trust that the sun will come out soon.
I don't know why but the fog inspired me to take more photos than usual considering there was very poor light and there would be very little to see. Maybe because it was unusual and I have been spoiled by many perfect, glorious mornings I found the contrast intriguing. I decided to film a time lapse of my immersion at Mermaid Cove in the fog and the light mist that settled in. I made my way across the slabs of granite and past the huge boulder to the sandy area just in front. I love that spot. I often stand there sinking my toes into the sand, enjoying the sensation after walking across the hard rock. Here, I observe the waves coming in - their power, rhythm, get a sense of the sea, adjust to the cold sensations washing across my warm skin, contemplate the upcoming immersion, and then I plunge forward over the rocks to the deeper pool that I can't see from the surface but that I know is there. In the time lapse it looks like I'm taking wave after wave and perhaps it looks uncomfortable but one of the blessings of these wild swims is the heightening of the senses. You must watch the sea. You must be present. You must listen to and feel the rhythms of the ocean and guide your actions in accordance. It's wonderful and each time I put my head under I am thrust into another world of color, sensation, bubbles, beauty. And I do it again and again because it feels good and makes me feel alive and happy and free. I even start to sing out in the water my "thank you" song. My spirit is uplifted. I know the sun will come out.
I get out of the water, with some regret, but the cold often dictates the end of my swim. As I dress I can sense the sun starting to burn through the fog. My spirit lifts some more. I decide to walk back into the light, back towards the bay where I have come from, and the calm, patience, being are rewarded. The sun starts to magnificently breath through.
Returning the same way into the sunrise through the fog, I crest the dune and make my way back along the boardwalk. The surfers are heading out again towards the beach. I turn around to look back and I'm stopped in my tracks by a 'fog rainbow'. I don't remember ever seeing anything like it before. The sun's aura reflects on the remaining particles of suspended water in the fog. I feel the same light illuminating my face and body. I realize I know one of the surfers and we both say how unique this is.
Then I turned around and was rewarded again: the glorious sun has not yet broken through the fog completely but clearly it will!. Gratitude. Everything fluctuates - moods, emotions, mental states, energy, health, weather! The sun will break through again. The mental fog will clear.
Keep trusting the process and be kind and compassionate with yourself as you move through the fog that appears to overwhelm, have no end and blocks your vision. It too will pass as does everything else. Try to sit with the fog and not resist it. What can you learn when you are in this state simply observing it and perhaps trusting yourself, your other senses and your inner knowing to guide your way?