I’m not sure if anything excites and calms me as much as the ocean. The first sight of it from a car window never fails to stir my soul. It suddenly transports me back to childhood memories and the thrill of anticipation—all the fun, adventure and exploration waiting to be had. Plus, being from the east coast, the beauty of the Pacific ignites a new sort of eagerness for me, one filled with traveling to new places and experiencing something different.
A couple years ago my husband and I made our first trip to Big Sur excited about enjoying all kinds of ocean views. We had set aside our first day to do a nice, long hike, so we were disappointed when we awoke to find everything shrouded in dense fog. Hopeful that the fog would burn off by noon, we determinedly began what was supposed to be a great trail with “expansive views of the coast.” As we walked up a steady incline, we found that we could not see more than a few feet of mountain all around us. Initially, I was irritated by the lack of any view, but I started noticing the peacefulness of the fog with the occasional bird singing and the bright yellow spirals and tiny red blossoms of wildflowers. We continued on for several miles—curving around mountains, moving between dried golden fields and lush green forests, enjoying the sights that we could see, albeit within a few feet radius.
While it was a soothing journey, it wasn’t exactly offering the vistas I’d had in mind. We continued on, reached our halfway point and decided to head back down the trail. The fog level didn’t change much into the afternoon. In fact, we commented that the fog may be thickening, instead of clearing up as the day progressed. As we hiked, I lost myself in the moment and the repetitive motion of walking when I glanced up to see a small gap in the fog and got excited to see a glimpse of the ocean! We’d curved around so much that I’d lost track of where we were in this world of fog. Then, we realized that the entire fog level seemed to be shifting, almost as if a curtain was being pulled up and more of the ocean started coming into sight. In what felt like a matter of seconds, the dense fog layer rolled out, and we were suddenly staring at a gorgeous green mountain chain etched by the jagged shoreline to the north and south and with nothing but immense ocean to our west. It was a spectacular sight! We had gone from bleak grayness and uncertainty about the surrounding area to an impressive view of bright blues and greens and golden sunshine. Yet, we hadn’t moved an inch! I realized that my perspective was entirely different.
And, it made me wonder how often our lives could be different if we shift our perspective. (Yes, I know we don’t usually get the benefit of the shifting fog doing that work for us. If only!) But . . . what if we could wait out the pain and suffering until those feelings subsided, and we got to enjoy the beauty underneath? Or, if, even when life is exceedingly difficult, we could hold firmly to the knowledge that the world has more to offer than what we currently see? Even more, what if we could appreciate the uncertainty for what it is, instead of wishing to change it? What if we can simply remind ourselves that there is always another way to consider a situation?
As we finished our hike, that dense marine layer of fog rolled back in almost as quickly as it had cleared. However, things felt different. I knew what was out there, and I treasured the brief reprieve even more because it felt so rare. I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had known the landscape in its entirety. I had witnessed both the heavy fog and the incredible views, and that felt real and genuine. At the end of the hike, I was thrilled to have had the whole experience.
Ready to work on changing your perspective? You know how to find us!