THE COLUMN

Issue No. 74/July 13, 1996


THE FOG (REVISITED)

IVAN HOFFMAN

When I was a small child, I wanted to be a big adult. Perhaps this is the way it is with all small children. Our world is dominated by grown-ups and because we appear weak compared with them, we want to be big and be just like them. We do not realize that what we are really seeking is some control over our apparently out of control world. We feel that being an adult will give us that control. We do not realize this until we become those adults, if then.

Well, as things would have it, eventually I became big, due no doubt in large part to canned peas and all-exactly-the-same-size carrots. Perhaps that happened to you as well. I became an adult. And having become an adult, at times I felt as though I wanted to be small again, be a child again. Many of us do not realize it but what we are really seeking at that time is to be out of control, to have someone else control our world. We want to give our power away to an adult, someone who can relieve us of the pressure it brings.

As children, the rules of life are often clearly set forth for us. Whether or not they are to our liking is not important for at our very core, the certainty that they bring creates comfort. As adults however, the rules are never very clear. Life is filled with uncertainty, we begin to understand, and for many that uncertainty is worse than rules imposed by others. We are uncomfortable with life in The Fog, a place in which the path is unclear.

So as adults, in order to recreate our rule-laden, certainty-filled lives we had as children, we seek out current life situations in which others impose certainty upon us-certainty in the form of rules. We find employers who act as parents telling us what to do and how to behave. We seek out relationships over which we seem to have little control or which do not offer us the ability to be adults. In doing these and other things, we repeat our parental relationships. We accept rules made up by the mythic "they" as in "they say" you have to do this or that. We complain but at our very core, the certainty that those rules create for us brings us comfort, much as they did for us when we were children. We sort of enjoy being out of control and not having responsibility for our lives.

But there may come a time when we pass through the need to recreate our smallness and are willing to be big again. There may come a time when we accept the uncertainty as a blessing, one given to us for the very purpose of teaching us how to live with it and trust in it. Enlightenment, after all, resides in The Fog.

For the essence of The Fog is really not about the mystery for its own sake. The essence of The Fog is about learning to accept responsibility for our own lives. It is about learning to read the "walk this way signs" that the universe is providing to us that we would not be able to read if we had a life of certainty. We would choose to ignore those signs for to follow them might create uncertainty. Living in The Fog is about personal choices, choices we make despite or indeed because of the uncertainty. Answers provided by others seem to create clarity but the clarity is misleading. It is clarity that defers our own need for growth. We can only grow when we are unsure of the direction of our lives and, as a result, trust in the process, in The Fog.

It is when we are children that we are most intimately connected to The Fog for that is before we begin to develop the fears that eventually become the barriers to that connection. The fears create the need for answers, for seeming clarity, and so prevent us from being open to change. When we are adults and we have learned to let go of those fears, we may then find ourselves almost as children yet again, living in harmony with our universe, having returned to that intimate connection with which we were born.

This cycle of small, big, small, big is not necessarily one that occurs within any single lifetime. It may take many lifetimes. Indeed, it is the essence of our destiny. It is the essence of our ability to reach spiritual intimacy. It is difficult stuff, this process of growing. It is so difficult that many of us, when we become adults, do not wish to face it. "I don't want to play," we may silently scream much as we may have done as children on the playground. "I want to take my ball and go home," we may whisper to ourselves. But we cannot simply take our ball and go home. The game is our destiny and sooner or later we must grow up.

When we are small we do not understand any of this.

When we are big we do not want to understand any of this.

© 1996 Ivan Hoffman


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