Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We get to choose which direction we face

Have you ever sat in a theater equipped with motion simulating seats?  Although it may seem strange to pay good money to get tossed this way and that like a vain woman’s locks, perfectly timed jolts, lurches, and drops can trick your body into believing what your eyes are seeing on the screen.  I like this -- the sensations conjured by the perfect combination of image and motion dunk me deep, deep into a movie. 

A number of years ago, half-way through an exciting series of roller coaster loops, dare-devil flight maneuvers, and expert speed racing stunts at this kind of theater, I randomly decided to come up for air and check in on my companions – were they enjoying the movie too?

It turns out that they were. 

It also turns out that being shaken by spasmodic seating is a completely different experience when you’re not watching the corresponding film.  While looking over at my friends, each seat position shift was just a random jerky movement.  And, do you have any idea how surreal it is to observe a group of people whose bodies are being thrashed about like rag dolls as their heads stay relatively level in order to continue staring ahead at a fixed plane?


That's what life feels like for me some days.   Although I am often caught up in the little dramas of everyday living, there are moments when I’m aware of the mechanics behind it all. 

Those moments are usually a source of amusement.  However, they are sometimes a source of relief if the story I am immersed in is complicated, stressful, scary, or in any other way, unpleasant.

Once, a good friend determined it was “safe” to take her son to a scary movie but realized halfway through that the reviews had been slightly misleading.  Instead of leaving the theater, she took a different tack.  Whenever she noticed a scene unfolding that was too frightening, she would lean in and whisper something to the effect of, “Isn’t it interesting how the special effect here makes it appear that…”  By doing this, she gently helped her son shift from being in the story to observing the story being told.  From this vantage, he had all the skills necessary to cope with what was taking place.

What we are looking at clearly has a tremendous impact on how we experience the world.  It’s a good thing that, at any given moment, we get to choose which direction we face.

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