The Haze and the Blaze

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A few summers back, we flew out to San Diego and spent a month driving slowly up the coast to Marin County. Just me, the wife and the kid.

I hadn’t spent a lot of time in southern California, especially along the coast. So I’d never heard of or experienced the phenomenon known as the marine layer, or June Gloom.

It starts in late spring and often lasts through July or even August these days.

Clouds form over the ocean, then sweep onto the coast forming a dense, cool fog that settles low to the ground. Hugging everything, it wraps the day in mist and shrouds the sun, leaving a grayish light to fight its way through.

Some days, it burns off later in the afternoon. Often it just lingers all day.

Here’s the thing about the marine layer. When you’re in it, especially as an East-coaster who has never heard of it, you just assume “hey, it’s a bit sucky outside. That’s the weather today.” Nothing to do about it, just bundle up and endure the gloom.

But, that’s not quite accurate. There is something you can do about it…

Walk a few blocks East.

Turns out, the marine layer, dense as it is, is actually quite narrow. It hugs the coast so tightly that if you walk or drive just a few minutes inland, you often emerge into blazing sun and a fierce jump in temperature.

You realize, everywhere else, the weather is quite stunning. The fog wasn’t “the” weather, it was just the weather where you chose to stand.


Thing is, you need to know this thing called a marine layer exists, before you can even think about how to get out from under it.

You need to know, the fog is not the world, it’s not even the state or the town or the neighborhood. It’s simply the spot you’ve chosen to stand at this moment. No longer just a matter of fate, but rather choice.

Kinda of similar to life.

So many of us live in a marine layer of our own creation. A haze of mediocrity, settling, disconnection and dysfunction. Not because we want to, but because we never knew there was the possibility of anything but.

We never knew the haze was not the world.

If you have no idea that a life of blazing sun, possibility, love, radiance, redemption, elevation, exaltation, meaning, joy, expressed potential, vitality and connection exists just outside the fog, you’ll do nothing to find a way out of the haze and into the blaze.

The quest becomes more challenging, too, when you realize, unlike California’s coastal sliver of a marine layer, a greater part of the entire world is blanketed with the haze of resignation, futility and complacency.

You may have to travel further, mine your reservoir for greater faith, work harder and longer to emerge into the warm glow. If you’re already close to the edge, it may not take much. But if you’re deeply embedded, it may well require the mounting of an odyssey.

In self-help-land, it’s not vogue to acknowledge the realities of the effort that may be needed to awaken into the sunshine of your life. Or the fact that it’s near impossible to get there alone.

I’d rather be honest than vogue.

And, now I’m off to find a sunny spot to write…

On a hazy winter day in Gotham.


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23 responses

23 responses to “The Haze and the Blaze”

  1. Patty Gordon says:

    Thankful for your honesty that eschews what is vogue :), JF – this brought to mind David Foster Wallace’s speech “This is Water.”

    • Michael says:

      Jonathan, this is an incredible post. Probably the best I’ve ever read on Social Media. 🙂


  2. LOVED this. I had no idea about it. Also made me think about how, once we recognise something (could be a stuckness – or an emotion we’re having, or the reason for one) this recognition alone is often is the key to shaking it off.

  3. Holy Moly, are you living in my brain? I just wrote a haiku about mediocrity as dimming your light to comfort those around you but this post articulates my thought so much more accurately! Thank you Jonathan! And now I have that Billy Ocean song in my head… lol

  4. Susie Cook says:

    Yes indeed! Thanks again Jonathan

  5. Dana says:

    Awesome post! Hit it out of the park, yet again…

  6. Nice one!

    Frankly, this describes my life before and after I took the GLP Immersion. I had it pretty darn good, or so I thought. I was healthy, effective, and more or less happy.

    Then I shifted to new conversations and more importantly, a different kind of tribe. I love my people and I also was able to see that some of the lifestyle choices I had been (unconsciously) making were working against me.

    I don’t mean this as a testimonial but as a report of how dramatic the difference is three years later. I have so much more energy and the quality of my conversations and interactions is so much better.

    I wouldn’t have known how much better things could be unless I took the leap to apply for Immersion. Now I wonder, what’s possible if I move even a few inches in a new direction? (Rubbing hands with glee….)

    Thanks, Jonathan, for all you do to help us love life that much more.

  7. Love this: “In self-help-land, it’s not vogue to acknowledge the realities of the effort that may be needed to awaken into the sunshine of your life. Or the fact that it’s near impossible to get there alone.”

    I very much appreciate your willingness to say the courageous thing, the hard realistic and true thing. And to say it well, as you do, now, that’s something else entirely.

    Thank you, Jonathan.

  8. Lila says:

    This is spot-on, Jonathan. I called it the coastal crud and it’s why I moved from the northern coast of Oregon to Hawaii three years ago. Life and the weather have been sunnier ever since. 🙂

  9. Erica J says:

    Jonathan – I love how consistently you deliver these succinct, yet so perfectly on point pieces. They are always in line with something I’ve been pondering! Reading your words helps to frame the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head, and they often come at the perfect time for me.

    Ever since hearing about Camp GLP and being on your mailing list, it never ceases – I love how your messages resonate. Can’t wait to play again in August!

    – Erica

  10. Jeffrey Willius says:

    Jonathan — this post rings so true for me. I spent most of my youth and even into young adulthood under this kind of fog (I later came to know it as “my dark cloud). But I couldn’t see it. How I came to see it and why I did something about it are in this post from my blog, One Man’s Wonder

  11. Alex says:

    Great analogy here Jonathan, and I especially like the closing reality check of what it takes to get out of the fog.

    It helps to realize when you’ve gone from blindness to awareness that you’re in the fog, and then realize when you’re in the thick of the long and hard journey out of the fog.

    An important distinction. Thank you.

  12. caroline says:

    I come from edinburgh and they call that very same phenomena “the har” : )

  13. Diane Young says:

    Your thoughts today remind me of the line from an old Eagles’ song, “So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains and never even know we have the key,”.

  14. Andrew says:

    Ohhhh man. As I write, as you read, I’m in the marine layer. Most people consider me a successful entrepreneur, having sold a company almost 12 years ago when I was 31. Now I have a fabulous family and a great house but a failing start-up and a career in what feels like free fall. I’m cutting time on my start-up to half-time next week to “look for other things”. It’s been a very long time coming on that decision and it has always felt right. Yet, the marine layer, the crud, the overwhelming feeling of impending doom is upon me and all I can think about is failing my family, crashing my career, walking away from something promising, never seeing success again.

    And yet, I have incredibly deep passion for a new idea — an idea that I think can help millions of people. But taking the leap of faith on this is gargantuan. I don’t have a partner, I don’t have funding, and I haven’t executed one inch of this yet. I’m only a few days from making that giant leap and it feels like I’m jumping into the abyss. Today, I felt signs of a panic attack and it was mind-numbing.

    The hardest part about being in the marine layer, the coastal crud of your chattering pessimistic brain, is that when you’re in it, it feels like the Truth with a capital ‘T’. My every part tells me that my nattering and fear is a real sign that I’m headed the wrong direction. It’s *factual*, not made up, not just a figment of my fear and too-healthy imagining down the rabbit hole.

    So how the hell do I get out of the marine layer? How do I realize that my new-found freedom (next week) is actually an opportunity to start clean, build exactly what I envision, and do it on my own terms? How do I stop believing everything I think?

    And how do people face new challenges when they have day-to-day challenges of three little kids and a stay-at-home-wife (i.e. limited income)?

    Jonathan? Anyone?

    • Peter says:

      I have found that he (negative and fear based) anticipation is quite often far worse than the reality once you get inside it and get some progress (positivity) happening. There’s life outside the fog.

      • Andrew says:

        You were right. Of course, I knew how to get out of the fog. It’s just that when you’re in it, it feels completely suffocating, like there is no way out. Your point about making progress on something is also a good one. It’s static friction vs. rolling friction. I gotta get rolling. Thank you.

  15. KelliP says:

    Thank you, Jonathan. I call it the “Eeyore Syndrome”. So many of us walk around with the dark cloud above our head (and the woe is me attitude to go along with it.) And too often it’s a cloud of our own making. I know this from personal experience, and am devoting 2015 to countering it.

  16. Nancie says:

    Fantastic analogy, and a great kick start exploring beyond my own mindset.

  17. Naomi Teeter says:

    Thanks for a great piece of writing! I lived in my own fog until the age of 24. As silly as it sounds, an episode of Oprah made me realize that I had the power to change that. Now, I spend most of my time in the sunny spots. 🙂

  18. Shell Parsons says:

    Thanks Jonathan. I needed that.x

  19. Rick says:

    Loved this Jonathan. Being a Southern Californian, i totally related and love how you made this into a wonderful learning piece. Rock on brother.

  20. […] of them in Jonathan Fields, a guy who loves to write, design, and inspire. And he wrote a post not long ago about being under a fog and finding your way out of it, and that has been resonating […]