Archive for April, 2013

April 2, 2013

Foggy Times in Fog City

You may know that San Francisco is dubbed Fog City, and rightfully so. When I was first thinking of moving to SF, everyone tried to warn me about the cold, the rain, and the fog. I mostly knew what I was getting into, but I did have some things to learn. It is true what they say – the fog grows on you. Much like at first not liking the dry desert scenery in Arizona, I have similarly gained a deep love and appreciation for the San Francisco fog. Furthermore, I quickly learned the sounds of the foghorn, which at first seemed much more like they were going off directly from my small Marina apartment windowsill than from the waters under the Golden Gate Bridge.

fog horn

(Photo Credit:

I will be honest and embarrassed now, about my initial and incorrect assumptions of the foghorn I was hearing. I thought the loud blasts were horns being sounded from the boat decks to warn other ships about a close distance. It made sense to me that it could be tough to see a shining light from the boat through the thick fog, so it seemed obvious that the boats themselves rang horns to declare they were coming through. This, in fact, is wrong and I have since learned much more about foghorns than I ever thought I would.

The foghorns are actually placed on the Golden Gate Bridge, mounted there since 1937 when the bridge was built. There are foghorns at the middle of the bridge (mid-span) and at the south SF Tower Pier. The foghorns aid in the safe travel of vessels, guiding hundreds of thousands safely through the Golden Gate Strait, as well as warning San Franciscans in the city that the heavy fog is rolling in.  And here is the part I love the most; each foghorn has a different pitch and frequency, and marine navigational charts give ships the signature for each fog horn.

So as I am typing, I can hear a low tone sequence of 2-second horn blasts, followed by 18 seconds of silence, then again 2-second horn blasts, and so forth. I now know that these horns are coming from the South San Francisco Tower Pier.

The foghorns I am listening to from my apartment are currently safely guiding ships in from sea, with seamen on-board who cannot see through the fog. For me, this brings an inordinate amount of peace at a critical time in my life. The past few months have unfortunately seemed unfamiliar, somewhat troublesome, slightly challenging, and misty with thoughts of not knowing if I actually am where I am supposed to be, or if I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. It has been difficult for me to see where life is taking me. It has been difficult for me to see which path I am supposed to choose, which relationship to pursue, which activities to fill my free time, and what, if anything, to experience next. What else can I, or should I, contribute to the world?

With a heavy heart and a cloudy mind, I can’t seem to find my direction through the fog. But what is so very good to know, is that sometimes when you can’t see, you can still get guidance by listening.

I have turned to friends, family, and prayer, blabbering on about how I’ve been feeling, and my frustration in what I’ve coined is sure to be the start of my quarter-life crisis. When I started to listen, though, I found that I am clearly not the only one around me with similar thoughts and cloudy confusion about jobs, relationships, moving, not moving, traveling, finances, goals and the list goes on and on. Since I can’t clearly see what I should be doing, I’ve decided that I can still be guided safely if I just rely on listening instead, and then understanding what I hear. What may have seemed so clear before, might now seem hazy. What you thought before to be your destination, may in fact turn out to just be the half-way stop. What may seem like the end of the road, might in fact be the beginning of a new journey. If you, too, are finding it difficult to see what is ahead, take comfort in knowing that life has placed foghorns along the way, long before you are planned to arrive, to guide you through.

Much like the ships in the Golden Gate Strait, I am going to need patience and I have to try to take my time. But there are other things around me that are worth listening to and observing. Eventually, I will get where I am supposed to end up, even if I can’t see it right now.

SF Fog City

(Photo Credit: National Geographic)

In the meantime, I’m remembering to just, love life.