“Kathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping.
I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”
-Paul Simon, “America”
Sometimes the greatest awakenings happen during life’s most ordinary moments. The veil parts and we see things as they are. I had one such experience in an elevator. No, I wasn’t stuck for hours between floors with a cast of fellow passengers to entertain, aggravate, and frustrate me. This journey lasted only seconds, but in those few moments my fog lifted, a wave of insight crashed over my bow, and a beacon of divine light showed me a truth that had hitherto been obscured from my view.
Allow me to set the stage. Embarking upon yet another mundane airline journey, I was making my way from security (located on the second floor) to my gate, located on the ground floor. While I usually take the stairs, this time the elevator looked handy. Joining four or five others I attempted the very delicate task of finding a spot to stand while being careful not to invade anyone’s invisible but clearly defined personal space.
After glancing at the keypad to be sure that someone had already pressed #1, I entered into the “elevator zone.” You know, that silent, awkward, eye-contact-avoiding place where even the most outgoing and articulate among us retreat when trapped in a box with strangers. Just then a man pulling a carry-on squeezed in as the doors were closing. Straightway he proceeded to press #2. (Let me recap here just in case you didn’t catch an important detail: We are on floor #2.)
As soon as the newest passenger pushed the #2 button, the doors stopped closing and opened up. The man seemed puzzled. Undaunted by the “malfunction,” he proceeded to press #2 with greater force as the doors began to close. Once again they opened wide.
While this drama unfolded, none of the rest of us said a word. We stood silent, transfixed by the irony that was playing out on our small stage.
As the doors began to open for the second time the man became visibly irritated. Time seemed to stand still as we all waited for the doors to begin to close. This time it will be different, I imagine he said to himself as he once again (with all the force that can be generated by an unyieldingly rigid finger upon a button) pressed #2.
I braced myself, anticipating the inevitable explosion. As soon as the doors began to open for the third time this poor soul abandoned all sense of decorum. Filled with that special kind of rage that comes as a result of extreme frustration, he passionately beseeched the Creator to damn the instrument of his torment, and stormed out onto the second floor.
As the elevator door finally closed upon this surreal little scene, I gazed, hypnotized, as my frustrated fellow traveler ventured out into the unknown. Just then I heard a voice
These are my children, trying to get somewhere they already are. Longing, praying, struggling, eventually frustrated and unable to recognize that they already dwell in the land of their dreams.
Here’s what I realized: This “elevator man” was facing an unsolvable dilemma. He was already dwelling in the place that he earnestly sought. All the benefits of the second floor lay spread out before him, but he couldn’t see them. His labor was over yet he continued to struggle in vain.
It’s a silly little story, and I’m sure this man quickly discovered “the error of his ways.” But what if the stakes were higher? What if Floor # 2 represented where we really want to be; our ultimate goal in life?
What if the fundamental human question of “who am I and why am I here” could only be answered by asking, “Where am I?”
We’re All Already on Floor #2.
For most of us slogging through this modern life, how many days go by like elevator journeys? Anxiously we look up at the numbers clicking along, waiting to get from where we are to where we want to be: a better place. It often feels like we’re barely moving at all, and sometimes the elevator gets stuck. As much as possible we avoid engaging with the people crammed around us (even though we feel like we ought to say something). We earnestly hope that we will not have to make too many stops before reaching our floor. We imagine that when we reach our destination we will rest. We’ll feel happy and satisfied.
But when the doors open, the scenery hasn’t changed. We’re back where we started. For many of us this happens over and over and over again. (Perhaps we struggle so in life because we never get the sense that we have arrived.)
Now, imagine with me that all of these stops, starts, and wrong floors are all just a very vivid, bad dream. Imagine that we have all already arrived in Paradise. Imagine that the whirlwind, the evil enemy, the perilous journey down the unknown path, the frustration of watching your balloon sail away forever is all an illusion.
What if everything you wanted, ever dreamed of, or never dared to dream of was right at your feet? What if an ocean of joy, pleasure, delight, and fulfillment was spread out before you, buffet-style? What if you were separated from the answer to all of your problems not by geography or achievement, but by vision? What if we are all blind people wandering through an exquisite, glorious world and have been deceived into believing that darkness was light? What if we are all already on Floor #2?
What if heaven weren’t “up there” or “later on,” but right here, right now at this very second, and right where you are standing? I invite you to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and open your mind and heart. Discover if this audacious claim resonates deep within your essential being. If this possibility is true… everything changes.
Most people who have had a near-death experience (NDE) understand this alternative view of the world we live in. With their 5 natural senses shut down, they “saw” into another world, without moving an inch. They were allowed to gaze behind the curtain at the world as it truly is, and this vision changed their lives forever.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful (certainly handy) if such a “vision” were possible without having to (nearly) die?
Maybe fairy tales enchant us because they are closer to reality than what we can see with our natural eyes. We feel deeply that we were made for a better world, for magical worlds like Oz. What if Oz is in fact, more real than Kansas?
What if all your dreams had already come true but you were still sleeping?
This is where a list of 10 steps to spiritual enlightenment, or a request to please sign up for my Life is Good retreat (only a $750 fee!) usually comes in. But don’t worry; I have something else in mind. So how do you wake up from a dream of this sort? Give this a try. Click your heels 3 times and say, “There’s no place like home.” Didn’t work? Maybe try it while wearing a new pair of shoes with some glitter! So much for self-help formulas.
Actually what’s needed is a new pair of eyes; eyes that see into the world that is closer than your breath, yet veiled from view. Tapping into this vision is a process (or if you prefer, a journey or quest). How long it takes depends on how far away you are. Start here by reading The Wizard of God. We’ll talk more after.
“My father says that almost the whole world is alseep…everybody you know, everybody you see, everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and that they live in a state of constant…total…amazement.”
– DeDe (Meg Ryan) to Joe (Tom Hanks) in Joe Versus the Volcano