The Fog

by JAKE NORTON

September 2019
Depression can be like a fog, thick and heavy, obscuring all but the brightest of lights. But, with effort, we can begin to cut through it and see the light of dawn.

There's times when I feel the need to just put on a happy face, to take a photo of a beautiful sunset with a beautiful family sharing a wonderful adventure in an exotic locale. That's what we're supposed to do on social media, right? Share the happy and the wonderful and the brilliant, shiny moments, even when those aren't the reality. Push out the highlight reel, and leave the ugly cuts on the edit room floor.

But, maybe I'm too simple, or want to be too honest, to do that. So, for the past few months I've been quiet here. June and July were great, but packed full of, well, packing, for a year on the road, with scant moments that seemed worthy of a post. Our family hit the road on August 1, and since then much of the time has been a chaotic swirl of travel and emotion that's taxed me, pushed my depression-prone psyche to the max as we try to figure out how to live on the road with two children and an elderly dog, homeschooling the kids and getting schooled by the dog, seeking adventure and meaning and hitting myriad road blocks and cul de sacs along the way.

To be honest, I've spent much of our time thus far in that perverse fog of sadness… the warm, wet blanket that you know you need to get out from under, but it feels strangely safe, welcoming, the heaviness both a burden and a blessing, holding you down when you know you need to get up, yet somehow can't. As Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote: "The fog [of depression] is like a cage without a key."

And as the fog thickens, it spawns questions and picks raw the scabs of insecurity: Who am I? What value do I have? How can a fraud like me continue onward? The truth will emerge soon enough. The voice from within, mumbling under the blanket, has the power to weaken and rattle even the best of defenses.

But, if mountains have taught me anything, it's that we don't give up. That perseverance unlocks almost any door if we're willing to keep trying… Even that cage door without a key. And, mountains have taught me that we never do it alone - the intricacies of a peak and the morass of the mental fog can only be navigated with the help of a team. I'm hugely fortunate to have an amazing family and a life partner like Wende Valentine to support and help get through the thickest and trickiest bits.

Dawn breaks through the fog over Lake Bohinj, Stara Fužina, Bohinj, Slovenia.

And, the door is opening. Like the first rays of dawn splitting the clouds over Lake Bohinj, we're finally finding our groove, getting into the rhythm of this new chapter and embracing the chaos of the road, the joy of the challenge.

Life isn't a highlight reel. Whether we show it or not, share it or hide it, life is a rocky road and we all take our lumps from time to time. Here's to persevering and getting to the light as it breaks through the fog…

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