The Cloud on the Ground

“The fog is like a cage without a key.”   ─ Daniel J. Boorstin


Fog is defined as a thick cloud of tiny water droplets suspended in the atmosphere at or near the earth’s surface that obscures or restricts visibility. Fog as a metaphorical comparison is a cloudiness that obscures and confuses a situation or someone’s thought processes by bewildering or puzzling a person so that their perceptions are vague.

Sometimes a client will say that they have a sullen type of mood and I will ask them about what their experience of this internal condition is like. A few have described their experience as if they are living in a fog, a brain fog that has slowly crept upon them. Others have implied that their fog is like a veil of grayness unlike smog which is a tan smoke like color. For some it denotes a brooding dimness like living in a cloudy netherworld. It is a place removed and below the light of a bright and clear consciousness. The fog obscures direction and movement. The passage out is blocked. Thick fog at ground level feels like living inside a drab damp cloud. This dreary emotional gray will cause the person to have misty or moist eyes as the cloudy feeling is expressed and even a tear might form.

The following poem by Carl Sandburg expresses through a cat metaphor poetically described the experience of being in a fog.


The fog comes

on little cat feet.

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

A psychological interpretation might suggest that the cat is an invisible instinct that can stealthily slink and sneak up to a person thus making its presence known. Both the fog and cat are independent and there are no rules to its silent and quiet movements. Both can hover and look over various situations and yet they can move on quickly and disappear. As the fog comes and goes it reminds us that a foggy brain is in a hazy state of confusion. This affect seems like it will last forever as the person lives in a state of perpetual uncertainty. It will in the end be a temporary situation and not a permanent condition. This experience of being in a fog is also an act of trust that things will burn off, clear up, and the light of consciousness will return.

“Most consequential choices involve shades of gray, and some fog is often useful in getting things done.” ─ Black Elk

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