Monday, January 26, 2009

Defying Gravity

Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars. Frederick Langbridge
The story goes that two men lay in a hospital room. The one closest to the window, sat in his bed, day by day, telling the other man, who could only lay flat on his back and not move, what he saw outside the window. Passing parades, flowering trees, dogs running in the park.

Day after day, each day passed the same. The one man told the other the wonders he saw outside the window.

Then, one morning, the man by the window was silent. The nurses came. The doctors arrived. They took the other man's body away. He had died in his sleep.

As soon as it was deemed polite, the other man asked to be moved to the window bed. He wanted to see for himself the wonderful world his roommate had described for so long. He lay there, flat on his back for awhile, until finally, he could not resist, he maneuvered his body into a sitting position. He looked out the window and saw, a brick wall.

He called for the nurse. How can this be? he asked. He described such beauty and joy outside the window.

Perhaps he described what gave him joy. she replied. He couldn't see outside the window. He was blind. (Author unknown)

What we see in life is filtered through our perceptions. The stars above twinkle. Their light shimmers in the night sky. Some of those stars are dead before their light reaches earth. We cannot tell the difference. We dream upon them, gaze at the wonder of the night time sky and let our imaginations soar. It doesn't matter how far the star is from our earth, we see its light and are reassured by the enormity and wonder of space.

When I was a kid, I loved the Hall of Mirrors at the fair. I loved walking along the glassy walls, my body distorted into a thousand shapes and pieces. Where ever I looked, I had a different shape, my head was to the side, my arms distended. Looking into the mirrors, I could not see, me, the source as I see me in my mind's eye, I could only see my reflected image distorted.

In life, what we see is the reflection of what we expect to see. On a snowy day, I expect to see snow on the ground -- white. After weeks of snow, I don't observe 'the snow', I see the world as it is. Were I to wake up one morning and see orange snow -- I'd be surprised. My expectation every morning is that the snow will be white -- until it melts away that is and then I'm very happy to see the green grass again!

Sometimes, living in this northern clime, a freak snowstorm will blow in and cover Summer grass with winter's blanket. Snow is not a pretty sight in those months. Snow is unexpected and unwelcome.

So much of my life is dependent upon my expectations that what I see fits the picture, the calendar, the timeframe, the parameters of what I expect to see, of what others tell me I see. Like the man in the hospital bed, I see the world through the stories I hear about the world beyond the limits of my sight. For that man, lying there for months, listening to the other man's stories, there was great joy in believing what he said. When he saw the 'truth', he had a choice. To be angry, to feel like a fool, or, to close his eyes, accept the gift of the other man's 'sight', and imagine the world as he was told it was, not as it appeared outside the window.

Stretching my eyes beyond the limits of my sight, I open myself up to the possibility of seeing beyond the expected, the norm, the anticipated view. Opening myself up to wonder, I open myself up to life beyond the walls of comfort, the zones of reality that I tread every day in my journey from A to B. I can look at a brick wall, or I can imagine myself soaring above the earth, flying free.

I 'know' I don't have wings to fly. But in my mind I am capable of soaring. In my mind's eye, I can picture myself leaping. I can imagine the wind catching me, lifting me up as I glide in space, free to explore the universe beyond.

When I leap, will I fall, or will I soar?

I'll never know until I see beyond the confines of my limiting beliefs the possibilities of space where I defy gravity.

The question is: Have you tested gravity? Have you defied your limiting beliefs today?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


good piece . . great story to tell