The time where I took Plato on vacation with me...
Monday Morning Musings...I woke up at “five o’clock somewhere” this morning thinking about Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave”. Hello, don’t you wish you could be in my pre-coffee brain??? Also, I’m exposing my true nerd-self here.
But, the Allegory of the Cave makes perfect sense for my experience this past week. First, a little dead Greek philosophy lesson.
In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato introduces two groups of people - those who are prisoners in a cave, shackled to the wall, viewing and knowing only what is in front of them. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between them is a raised walkway. There are other people outside the cave who walk along this walkway carrying things on their head. So, imagine that you are one of the prisoners. You cannot look at anything behind or to the side of you – you must look at the wall in front of you. When people walk along the walkway, you can see shadows of the objects they are carrying cast on to the wall.
If you had never seen the real objects ever before, you would believe that the shadows of objects were “real”.
One of the prisoners then escapes from the cave and leaves to go beyond what he has always known. He is shocked at the world he discovers outside the cave and it’s challenges to all his beliefs. As he becomes accustomed to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was limited.
When the prisoner returns to the cave, to inform the other prisoners of his findings, they do not believe him and threaten to kill him.
They are too comfortable with what is familiar. It is too daunting for them to attempt a change in their own perspectives.
Ok...boring history lesson over.
This week, while on family vacation, we hiked into a cave over 1000ft down into the Carlsbad Caverns, NM. As a family, we have tended to shy away from taking strenuous or super “active” vacations with Jackson. His low-tone, sensory issues and being easily overwhelmed, makes too much physical activity very challenging for him. So, we have vacationed at the beach, the pool, anywhere which would be “easier” for him.
This year, we tried something different. As we entered the cave - it was dark, steep, and smelly (bat excrement REALLY stinks). All the things which are challenging for a typical person, let alone someone with physical limitations.
Yet, arm in arm we entered the cave. Slowly, deliberately. One step at a time. Jay and his sisters cheering him all the way - at times relieving me and holding his hand down the path. They went ahead of us to warn us about any unforeseen bumps in the trail. On the steep switchbacks, we went even slower. Alternating sides, to make sure he was able to grab the hand rail on one side and my arm on the other.
We had the fire behind us. Motivating us to continue (well, that and the elevator which would take us back up to the top).
With assistance and encouragement (isn’t this what we all need??) - Jackson made it! Two and a half miles of very challenging hiking. I cannot remember a recent time when my heart has swelled more.
If we had remained shackled to the wall, stuck in our old “it’s too challenging” mentality, we would not have been warmed by the fire and exposed to new truths and new realities.
I am grateful for “The Allegory of the Cave” and it’s current modern day applications. Y’all know how I love a good perspective shift.
And, triple bonus points for anyone who has read this until the end!!!!