I’m surrounded by darkness and fog.
Autumn drifts closer—the air is getting cooler, the leaves are getting drier, the crows are getting louder, and the days are getting shorter. Which means, if I’m going to get in my bike ride before the morning carpool, I have to begin in the dark.
On this particular morning, a fog has descended, reducing visibility to almost nothing, and I’m on a bike path, surrounded on all sides by forest. A small headlight illuminates the path ahead of me, but it cannot penetrate beyond a few feet.
I’m surrounded by darkness and fog, and it’s a metaphor for everything.
As my feet push the pedals on this dark path, I wonder if maybe I should have just stayed in bed, where it was safer. Similarly, while I’d slumbered the night before, the doubt had crept back in, unbidden—doubt about this passion of mine, this writing thing. Six years of words on a page. Three-hundred-some blog posts. A book. I wonder if my words and I should have just stayed in my heart, where it is safer, where blood, sweat, and tears may not end quite so badly.
In every life, there comes a dark morning when you question the path you’ve chosen—the decisions that have left your life decidedly undecided. It’s the kind of morning that can turn into depression, if you have too many of them in a row.
As I breath heavy, my eyes strain to see beyond the reach of my headlight, wishing for just a little more warning about what lies ahead. In my life, too, I keep straining the eyes of my mind, hoping for some indication of what is to come on this path I’m traveling.
In every life, there comes a dark morning when you worry about what lies ahead, when you strain your mind to see the future that is cloaked in fog. It’s the kind of morning that can turn into anxiety, if you have too many of them in a row.
Suddenly, I realize I can see just a little beyond the circumference of my headlight. There is a glow in the sky ahead of me. This particular bike path runs past a prison, and the prison lights are bright. I’m getting what I want—a little more visibility—yet I’m not sure I like where it is coming from.
In every life, there is the temptation to seek a little more certainty wherever we can get it. But usually, those things that bring more certainty—things like control and power and security and dogmatic beliefs and the best laid plans—come at a cost. We get addicted to them. We get imprisoned by them. In the end, they don’t shed light on a better life; they illuminate a smaller life.
I pass the prison and the darkness and fog deepen once again. Then, ironically, as I continue to wonder about this writing path I’m on, the writer in me begins to wonder about this metaphor. Specifically, I wonder, what do the darkness and fog represent? Is it shame? Is it ego? And then I know. They represent my humanity.
To be human is to live in darkness and fog. To be human is to live in uncertainty. To be human is to travel a path strewn behind us with the debris of doubt and second-guessing. To be human is to long for a vision of what lies ahead. And yet. To be fully human is to embrace that darkness and fog are simply part of the equation, part of life, at least for a while.
Sure, on this dark and foggy morning, there will come a sunrise. So, too, in my life—whether in moments of epiphany, or in my final passing moments—there will come a sunrise that burns away the veil. But for now, I pedal on, guided only by this small light, seeing only this short distance.
And what is this small light?
This small light comes from my soul. The Divine is here, using our legs and racing hearts and searing lungs and sweating brows, to move it from here to there. This small light is the passion implanted in my soul—this passion for writing—the passion chosen for me not by me. Each of us is given at least one. But this small light doesn’t show us where we’re headed or what’s ahead; it just shows us what we’re here to do today.
Then, I realize, I’d awoken mistaken. Writing isn’t my path. Life is my path. Writing is simply the small light with which I navigate it.
If your path seems to be covered in darkness and fog, it’s because it is covered in darkness and fog. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re headed in the wrong direction; it simply means you’re alive and you’re human. The question is, will you turn on your small light? Will you trust your soul? Will you pedal through this life with your passion leading the way?
Will you let it guide you, if only for today?
In his debut novel, Kelly weaves a page-turning, plot-twisting tale that explores the spiritual depths of identity and relationships, amidst themes of healing, grace, faith, forgiveness, and freedom.
Connect with Kelly
Dr. Kelly Flanagan is a psychologist, author, consultant, and speaker who enjoys walking with people through the three essentials of a truly satisfying life: worthiness, belonging, and purpose. His blog writings have been featured in Reader’s Digest, The Huffington Post, The 5 Love Languages, and the TODAY Show. Kelly is the author of Loveable and True Companions.