My blogger friend Charlotte posted this story not too long ago and I felt like sharing it because of the message it conveys. I am sure that most of you are familiar with Plato and his cave analogy. Charlotte summarized it in a shorter version which goes like this:
There are all these people in a cave, chained to a rock so they can’t see outside the cave, just the shadows on the wall at the back. They’re pretty happy, and have names for all the shadows – oh look, that one has four legs and some ears and a tail. And that one has two legs and walks upright!
Then one day, one of the guys there found that his shackles were broken – he was free! He ran outside, but felt really stressed. The sun was so bright and his eyes hurt, and there were so many new and unknown things to look at. But once he got the hang of it, he found it all really exciting; that four legged tail thing is a dog and is really soft and cool, and those two legged ones are other humans that he could talk with and learn new things from. How awesome is all of this!
After a while he went back to his old friends in the cave. “Hey guys! This whole outside place is awesome! You should go check it out!” But they didn’t want to. They were happy with their shadows and their dark world. They didn’t need anything else in their lives.
The analogy currently rings very true to me and my (or perhaps other people’s) life circumstances. I guess I’ve never been anyone to spend too much time inside a cave – even as a child, teenager or young adult. I have, however, perhaps willingly or unwillingly, surrounded myself with cave people. I guess they are hardly avoidable, even in today’s world, which has become more globalized and communicate than it had ever been before. What I have noticed is that perhaps the gap between cave-stayers and cave-leavers has grown. Those who truly don’t want to leave the safe home and explore versus those who have become full-time explorers and travelers.
To me, it has been a frustrating and uncomfortable feeling to deal with the first type of person and has rather caused stagnation in growth throughout my life than nurture healthy thoughts on settlement.
How great my surprise to see that more and more people have appeared in my life, who are prone and excited to be leaving the cave and go on enlightening and adventurous trips outside of it.
I also believe that there are people who belong to an in-between-type: Once outside the cave they’ve realized that the outside world is not too fulfilling without the other cave people and who have returned to the cave again. But I am uncertain if such a life is satisfying and what the odds are of finding happiness when staying inside.
The fear of change might be great but isn’t the fear of never changing (in whatever direction) even greater?