Our one real view of the outside includes the Mauna Kea Volcano and a landscape that alternates its form between several smaller mountains and a sea of clouds.

For miles, there is little to see but rock of varying shades of browns and reds. Slightly darker or lighter tones tell stories of different lava flows and eruptions.

The window in front of me pulses with the wind, and only a few meters ahead of my view are several stones piled on one another. Their geometry is just neat enough to project that its existence is the result of human presence, serving as a reminder that we are here.

We look over Mauna Kea often, admiring the sky’s warm hues behind it during sunset, or the way the thick clouds hug its base in the early morning. On rare occasion, we may find a rainbow poking through the mist.

The longer I look, the more I notice the playful trickery of the natural environment. It teases with beautiful views cast upon landscapes formed from past powerful, dangerous eruptions.

The fog and vog here roll in quickly.

In one moment, Mauna Kea can be seen clear as day, revealing whatever its summit currently holds, such as a snowfall-covered cap, or lonely observatories.

Within minutes, that clarity can be pilfered.

The rolling force of obscurity sneaks up. Its calm waves crawl deceptively fast over the land, one pebble at a time. Varying elevations of rock become layered, seemingly turning to strokes of a paintbrush before disappearing altogether. The fog’s movements are mesmerizing and deceitful, often managing to blind your view before you notice it’s happening.


And that’s how it happens, isn’t it?

In one moment, you can see the top of the mountain clearly. You are able to visualize its the clear paths and trails leading to the summit.

Your mind dances with options of how to climb,

not whether you’re able.

It’s only moments later that your path suddenly feels unclear. No longer can you see your destination, nor any path that may lead to it.

If you were already moving towards it, you may question your footing and doubt your ability to make it. You might even consider turning back altogether. Question your step long enough, and you may just lose your direction entirely, or forget where you were headed in the first place.


What’s easy to forget is that the fog clears just as fast as it rolls in.

And the top of the mountain always seems to be the first place to clear.

As I write this, I can’t help but have a phrase resonate:

“Have a clarity of vision, and a flexibility of process.”

Perhaps all we need to do, no matter the fog, vog, false insecurities, or temporary discouragements, is to remember that we can always picture the mountain top in minds. We can imagine its peaks, rolling hills and curves. We can visualize its grooves, each of which become increasingly ingrained with every sight. The observatories become bold, looking up to the sky along with us.

From our little bubble, I can’t see a clear road or trail leading to it the summit. I am certain there is no easy path at all. And though it feels unreachable from here, I need only to know it’s there, waiting.

I don’t know the path and will never learn the secrets of its twists and turns from all the way out here. Only when I tread it, step by step, will I understand its intricate subtleties, a necessary leap here, or a sidestep there.

And right now I’ve got my crew, here and now to be a part of. One step in the path.

I feel good as I sip tea by the only window I’ve been dealt, scratching a few words onto a pad.

Watching the fog roll in and hide the mountain top that now,

I am sure,

Is still there.


2 thoughts on “Clarity of Vision

  1. After reading your post, which I really enjoyed, It brought to mind the Walt Whitman poem “When I Heard the Learned Astronomer”. I hope you enjoy it . :0)

    When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
    When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
    When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
    When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
    How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
    Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
    In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
    Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


    1. That’s a great poem. I’m actually familiar with it, but I’m appreciative of you bringing it back to my attention.

      A much lesser known poem, and frankly, completely different but space related is called “Riders Together, Brothers of the Eternal Cold” – I may have the start of that title wrong, but there’s no Google here. Thanks for reading!


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