It was the buzzing that woke me. Wanting to sleep in, I felt the sharp constriction of irritation in my stomach that precedes anger. Breathing deeply, I squelched that impulse. I’d never get back to sleep if I gave in to anger. I lay there, watching my breath, hoping that the buzzing would fade into the background of my awareness.
Buzz… BUZZ… BUZZ!!!
Whatever it was, it seemed to buzz questioningly at first, as if trying to figure out some deep, impenetrable aspect of the origin of the universe. Finally, in frustration, it threw itself into action. Eyes still closed, I listened as it began to hurl its body against the glass door. That did it! I was fully awake now!
Sliding out of bed, I walked over to the glass door that opened onto our deck and the view of the city and lake below. There, marching up and down on the glass, was the source of the sound – a fly! I watched it go up and down the glass. Truly, it looked just like a drill sergeant marching across a practice field.
After doing this a few times, it stopped. Standing still, it appeared to be contemplating why it could see outside but couldn’t get outside. I had no idea WHAT a fly could see, but it definitely wanted to be on the other side of that glass door.
So, I reached out and opened it a few inches. The fresh, bright morning air wafted into the bedroom. I sat, expectantly, pleased with myself for having paved the way for the fly to escape. The fly, however, resumed its marching up and down the glass. What? Why didn’t it sense the fresh air and follow it?
As I sat there watching, the fly went through its routine of marching, questioning and flinging itself at the glass. I tried to shoo it towards the 3-inch opening that ran the full height of the door. Instead of moving towards freedom, the fly flew past my moving hand toward to other side of the door. All I had succeeded in doing was to scare it. It was now farther away from freedom than ever before.
Frustrated in my role of savior, I opened the door all the way. Now there was fully thirty inches of open space through which that fly could escape. But no, he continued to huddle in the far corner of the glass door, behind the vertical blinds.
I sat mystified, wondering about what I was witnessing. It was such an obvious analogy that even I couldn’t miss it.
How many times had I tried to save a member of my family or one of my friends? Through simple observation, I could easily see what their problem was. When I explained it, they would nod their heads, agreeing with my analysis. Yet, without fail, each solution I offered was met with resistance. There was always a very good reason why they couldn’t do this or that to solve the problem or alter the course of their lives. They made one excuse after another until all I could do was bless them and walk away. I was reminded of this quote from Illusions by Richard Bach:
Argue for your limitations and they’re yours!
That fly, like my family and friends, couldn’t see the bigger picture that I could see. I knew that the solution was just to open the glass door and let it fly out. Clinging to its place on the glass, it couldn’t see beyond what was right in front of its huge, multi-lens eyes. It couldn’t see itself or its place in the room.
As I sat there on that long ago spring morning, I realized that I, too, was like that fly. I, too, viewed life through a particular paradigm. Sometimes it served me; many times it didn’t. How could I get a larger perspective on my life? How could I shift my paradigm?
Over the years, the answers to those questions have come. Sometimes in shadow, often in code, and once in a while, as fully illuminated and clear messages.
We are wired to be the way we are. Each one of us is differently wired by our experiences in the womb, and that process of wiring continues after birth. What we think of as “us” is just a program that runs relentlessly in the background. Attempts to change the programing ultimately fail because, like the fly, we cannot see anything but what is in front of our eyes. We cannot see ourselves or our place in the universe.
To see ourselves and our programing, we have to get outside of ourselves. We have to see with different eyes. One way to do that is through meditation. Touching the depths within, we become aware that we are more than our minds, bodies, emotions, labels. If we can see all of that as just our programing, we have the opportunity to choose NOT to go along with the programing. We can learn to separate “I” from “IT” – to separate Essence from Programing.
Another way to do that is to see ourselves through the eyes of another. This can be a shock! Where we ascribe positive motivations for our actions, we often find that others see us quite differently! If we allow this to inform us about our programing, rather than see it as a personal indictment, we have a chance to be outside of that programing for a bit.
Getting outside of the programing is UNCOMFORTABLE. That’s why we resist it and go back to it as soon as our awareness lapses. Yet, the fresh, bright air that we breathe when we ARE aware is unmistakably the breath of freedom. It is the very breath of New Life – a life that is lived in absolute freedom from programing. A life that is undisturbed by events, circumstances, situations or the stories we make up about all of that.
A life that is lived with the peace that passes understanding. Are you willing to trade your familiar, but unfulfilling programing, for the life that is waiting for you? Then, open your eyes and fly through the door that lies open for you. Fly free!
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