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Sunday, February 12, 2012

The dark room

There was a dark room with writing all over the walls. I used to enter it regularly with my small candle so I could see what was written. The candle would illuminate a small portion of the wall, but what I could see made sense to me. I formed this picture in my head based on the parts of the wall I could see. Sometimes, other people I know would enter the room with me and we would talk about what we saw on the wall. For the most part, they had the same small candle as I did and saw the same words and reached the same conclusions. But occasionally someone would enter the room and describe parts of the wall I had never seen. It didn't fit with what I thought should be there, so I thought they must have not paid close enough attention and simply misinterpreted the wall. It couldn't possibly say that!

But one day someone entered the room carrying a flashlight. Their beam reached farther on the wall than my small candle. They showed me parts of the wall that I hadn't seen before, and I was confused. There was no denying that those parts of the wall seemed to contradict the part of the wall I had always seen. Even though I didn't understand the contradiction, I tried forgetting about those parts. It didn't fit with my version of reality, so therefore it wasn't right. Or so I thought.

Then something huge happened. Someone walked in the room and flipped on the light switch. Suddenly, I realized the walls were covered with more words than I had imagined. As I began reading them, starting from the beginning, my perception changed. I realized that my conclusions were all based on reading the same small, illuminated portions that my little candle could reach, but when read in context with the rest of the writings were actually completely different than I would ever have thought. I fought the urge to flip the light back off - it was certainly more comfortable in the dark with my little candle that I had lived with all of my life - but at the same time, once I saw the bigger picture, there was no going back.

No longer could I see things the same way that I once had. No matter how much I wanted to go back to my little candle at times, I knew at that point I would be intentionally ignoring the rest of the writings on the walls, and I just couldn't do that. The walls - when taken as a whole - told a much bigger story than what I had previously known. And the seeming contradictions that I had come across fit perfectly into the grand scheme of things. I no longer had the need to ignore parts of the wall that didn't fit with my version of reality. The story unfolded clearly and beautifully before me, and I became mesmorized by the pure simplicity of it all.

Sometimes I visit the room when other people are in it. It's hard for me to go back to the light of the candle after that. It's painful, even. Even when I look at the same wall that I once looked at with the same candle that I once carried, since I know the bigger picture I no longer see things the same way. Sometimes I bring in a flashlight, but the light is too intense for many. And so I wait. I wait for someone to realize there is a greater light. And when I find someone who also enjoys the room with the light turned on, I rejoice.

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