My alarm woke me at 6:15 am. I crept down off the top bunk in my room at a Chicago hostel, trying to not wake my roommates as I fumbled around for my clothes in the dark. I headed down the stairs, my excitement grew- I was in Chicago, a place I had been dreaming about visiting for years. And my first stop was to watch the sun rise over the beautiful blue water of Lake Michigan, that I knew was less than a mile to the east.
As I walked out the door of my hostel, I was met with a seemingly unfortunate reality.
And not the type of fog that looks like it will burn off once the sun comes up. It was thick, and misty and had no appearance of clearing up anytime soon.
But since I knew the general direction of the lake, I began heading that way- navigating as far ahead as the fog would allow.
Chicago is waking up all around me. I pass businessmen heading to work clutching a cup of steaming coffee, the homeless stirring from their park benches, headlights of those who want to beat rush hour reflecting off the mist, as the roar of the subway thunders above my head. Signs of life are all around me, and I try not to miss them in the fog.
I continue walking towards the wall of grey haze that I knew to be the lake. It’s an uneasy feeling- intentionally walking into a place you can not see, a place you’ve never been and have no reference for. But I kept walking- partly because I was clinging to the hope that the fog would clear; mostly because I had no do-over.
This was my day in Chicago. There was no tomorrow, or next week or month. I had one day, and I was determined to make the most of it. To take what came as a gift because I didn’t have time to regret or complain or wish it were different.
As I walked farther east, I began to hear a new sound. The roar of the city faded and was replaced by a chiming melody. Intrigued, I continued walking and soon began to see tall silhouettes emerge from the foggy mist. As I reached the lakefront’s edge, the sailboats serenaded me as they rocked in the morning breeze. I stopped to take them in for a moment, enjoying my own private concert.
It was eerily moving. The grey clouds shifting in and out of the sails, making the masts visible one minute and taking them away the next. The fog held a certain power, a certain authority- masking my ability to see to the horizon, blocking the sun. Yet it did so quietly, peacefully. The unknown carries with it a stillness, a mystery with no need to explain itself. It demands a trust.
The fog holds its own style of elegance, of charm, seen by those who learn to rest in it instead of fight against it.
Most days, I just want clarity. I want to see to the horizon, to have an idea of what’s coming next. I believe that if I could just see, if I could just know that beauty lies beyond today, it would give me strength to move forward, to press on.
Yet most days, my life doesn’t look like a clear sun rise over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Instead, it’s much like the foggy morning- taking steps of faith toward what I believe to be true but cannot see. It’s opening my eyes to the small signs of life around me, and embracing the unknown as beautiful in itself.
It’s learning to hear the music in the midst of the fog.