(listening time: 4:23 minutes)
One foggy December morning, when the snow was too deep and too icy to walk comfortably in the woods, I asked my beloved to drop Asha and me at the town line on the way to work so we could walk home along the road.*
“Be careful. It’s foggy. People can’t see,” she said as Asha and I exited the warm car into the cold and fog.
I was on familiar ground, having driven, walked and biked this stretch of road many, many times. So this isn’t a story about getting lost in the fog and needing to find our way home.
What I noticed on our two-and-a-half-mile walk is this: I could see fifty paces ahead of me very clearly and that was enough because as we walked, that fifty-pace bubble moved with us.
This experience was a comforting visual reminder that all I need is the next step. Then the next step will become clear and then the next after that. Clarity moves with me.
I recently made a decision that has me feeling like I’m venturing from the warm comfort of the known into the fog.
When I start to get lost in the questions and unknowns, I think about that foggy morning and remember that whenever I looked too far ahead, the road was soupy. I pull my gaze back to the present, to what I do know and let go of the desire to figure everything out.
I don’t have all the answers and I can still move forward. In fact, there are some things I can’t or won’t know until I do.
I can hold the not-knowing and make the next decision with what I know at that moment.
Sometimes I yearn for a sweeping vista. But even on bright days or when I have an open view of where I’m going, I still have to take one step at a time.
Exploring new-to-us trails with Asha has taught me that it can be an advantage not to know what lies ahead. If I knew about the very steep slope, I might not choose that trail and then I would miss the fragrant meadow. If I knew the trail was flooded and I’d have to turn around, I would miss the ducklings squeaking as they tried to swim upstream.
Decisions, like new trails, can hold surprises.
Adopting Asha led to walks in the woods, which led to these stories and getting to know my woodland neighbors, which has led me to sketching in order to deepen my learning and observations about trees and plants.
Neither a blog that’s also a podcast nor learning to identify trees and plants nor sketching were part of a five-year plan or on a list a things I wanted to do. (In fact sketching was on a can’t do list.)
Had I had such a plan or list, I might have missed these important turns when they presented themselves.
Unlike that December morning, when Asha and I walked home along a familiar road and could anticipate the curves ahead, this recent decision is taking me into the unknown.
I’m curious what surprises lie ahead as I step into the fog. What will reveal itself? Taking one step at a time, where will I go?
*I respectfully acknowledge that Asha and I live and walk on the ancestral homelands of the Pocumtuck, whose descendants, along with the Nipmuck and the Abenaki, still live here.