A funny thing happened this Christmas eve, watching Eddie Murphy clown around in “delirious” and I was in stitches. Now I have watched this episode many times and except for a snicker, a smile and a “heh” there was little in the way of expression that escaped my lips. By little, I mean nada. But the other day in the company of some other family members, the same episode had me doubled over in delirious laughter and pain in my sides. A nuance here and a word or action by the funny man there and nothing but, total loss of all composure. My family members enjoyed my discomfiture more than what was on the screen and through the loudspeakers.
The DVD played out and I was exhausted from the exercise of lost control. We sat around for a while and it began to dawn upon me the very nature of our day-to-day existence. How our lives are governed by our inner states of being. The emotions that captivate us, draw us, temper our behavior and then play out our senses to their extroverted outcomes are what create our reality.
The product of our being resides as much in the externals that continue to haunt us from every aspect of our lives: the negative barrage of the television, or the provocative words of the newspapers, the misguided anger and disgust of others, but also by the very nature of our own thoughts. We perceive through the color of our intent. We live our lives under the shadows of our fears, angers and assumptions. Reality changes to the color of our “sunglasses.”
It was an interesting self-discovery. This was not earth shattering by any means. And I am sure others have come to this conclusion at some point or another, but for me this was an “Ah-hah” moment. What made this moment special was not the funny man on the screen, but my complete submission to the nature of that moment. The firewalls of the “self” were down, completely unguarded, there was nary a filter of “control”. The self was exposed!
It is funny how moments shape and transmogrify the understanding and how moments collapse into one other to further the thought, as happened next.
My 16-year old niece came in after the deluge of the laughter had subsided and I had once again settled into the norm of “controlled expressions.” But what was “funny” was the conversation that flowed.
We were discussing what she wanted to do in her future. Now, let me preface that with the fact that she is a beautiful person inside and out. Her face lights a million smiles and her words are ancient with respect and love. She is one extraordinary child of this human race. The conversation turned into what she wished to do in her future. It was an implicit inquiry rather then a statement.
She loves the field of medicine, “I want to help people in some way.” She said, “but I don’t necessarily want to be a doctor.” Oh? This was new to me.
“You know, do something useful.” She reflected for a moment, “Time passes by so quickly.” This from a 16-year old girl can be quite discombobulating.
“What is it that you like?”
“Right now, I want to get into photography.” That was more like it. We seem to be moving into a stream of self-reflection on her part.
“But how does that help people?” she asked with half a smile and an equal measure of doubt.
“Do what you love to do.”
“But…” she quizzed, “how does it help others?”
“It will come to you.”
“Photos and medicine?” She paused.
“Maybe…” She stopped and her face lit up. I knew she had figured out something and she was mulling it over.
“You know, as a physician, it is more like a hand-to-hand combat. It is caring for one person at a time. But when you create something that by virtue of its inception is guaranteed to help tens, hundreds, thousands or even millions, that is a dream worth having.” My vocal chords betrayed my own thoughts.
“Thank you!” She jumped up, gave me a hug and off she went bustling with the energy of her thinking, leaving in her wake, the few snow flakes falling from winter loaded clouds overhead and an uncle’s pride.
It is possible that this desire will change as equally as it will stand throughout her lifetime. But however it is and whatever it is, if it is with passion and desire, it will color her world with joy. Even though that is my, philosophizing! It is a 180-degree directional change for me. I mean previously, all I would say, “do something meaningful, worthwhile to support yourself.” Now, not so! The preface changes but the meaningful part, the content and context, comes packaged within, loaded with passion.
I was always the practical one, but not this time, not that moment. My thinking was clear, composed and assured. All practicality had been laid at the altar of passion. It is after all the one thing that moves mountains, builds railroads that crisscross the nation, fire rockets that reach outer space and beyond, build skyscrapers that face the gale force winds way above where the crows fly and create tiny robots that swim inside of us peering within at the intricacies of our internal universe. Yes! It is that very passion that conceives of the impossible and gives it form and substance.
I remember the glow in her eyes as they lit up, her face blossomed into a beaming smile and I knew she understood. She never told me how she had merged the two concepts, but we will find out in the future. Now won’t we?
Funny, how it all started with the “funny man.” When the façade of what should be, suddenly changed into what can be, the entire message of life changed. It is funny how things change. It is funny how the future changes to a newer perceived reality. It is funny how the shell that deflects, protects, reflects, modifies our behaviors and actions sometime also keeps us from our better angels.
Funny, how things change.
Funny, how the mind perceives,
Funny, how perceptions fade.
Funny, how the vision grows.
And the world changes!