Omens and foggy days

I love foggy days.

In late 2012, I visited San Francisco to attend a week-long conference. Before and after the conference, I had some time to explore the city and marveled at the perfect weather and foggy skies. The city has even given a name to this warm and inviting cloudy companion: Karl. Now, whenever I experience a foggy day, I am reminded of Karl the Fog. I take it as a sign or an omen - like nature communicating to me quietly that today, I can feel free to wander and explore, remembering the spirit I had in San Francisco. But should I even believe in such a thing? As a rational and analytical person, what need do I have of such superstitious belief?

A superstition is defined as an untrue belief, one lacking evidence or supported by ignorance. It doesn't usually serve me to hold unsupported beliefs, but I do enjoy what I feel when I see fog - I anticipate a good day, as the emotions that I have rooted in the memory of Karl the Fog cause me to remember on-the-ground condensation as I would an old friend. That emotional response triggers an expectation, which forms the foundation of a belief. That belief, however unsubstantiated it may be, makes me feel good! Optimistic, even! This leads me to believe that a belief in omens might somehow be useful.

Just as I explored San Francisco without the expectation that my future emotional states would be influenced by its weather patterns, many other people traveling through life will experience times that, within them, form the basis of powerful emotional memories. If those memories are triggered - in a positive (but more often negative, colloquially) sense - then a new experience is filtered through the perceptual lens of an emotional response rooted in memories. This question of "How might omens or superstition be useful?" then extends to: "How can we make decisions which are influenced heavily by emotion that will lead us to what we truly want or need?" Such questions point toward life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. As a corollary, how do we make decisions under conditions of great emotion?

Perhaps, in the face of the unknown, an omen can be an answer. By hoping for a nudge by an invisible hand in the right direction, we might unearth the unconscious desires that move our decisions in one direction or another. By flipping a coin and anticipating the outcome, we realize what we want that outcome to be. People can and have for many years used superstitions to foster beliefs that are not only self-serving, but inspire the confidence to make decisions that are emotionally satisfying and thus have the potential to make life itself more fulfilling.

Published June 29, 2019