This is a story of long ago, when I was a boy, barely a teenager. It is the story of choices, options, and where we can go in life.
One day, long ago, I was sitting at a desk, doodling, instead of studying. I was quite intelligent, and I arrogantly believed that I could probably handle whatever tests and exams I had to give with a minimal amount of studying. Deep down, though, I probably knew that I had to study, and immerse myself in academics, if I wanted to succeed in life. Still, I lazed about and enjoyed myself by doing pointless things.
And then, suddenly, I was gone from my house. I was on a plane, and there was a parachute with me. There were empty junk food boxes, and discarded soft drink cans. There was a huge gaming system and a powerful computer with me. I panicked and called out for help. Suddenly, a man appeared in front of me. He stared straight at me and opened one hand. He said, “This plane is going somewhere. You can stay here and enjoy the ride. Whatever you want will appear here. You will not have to do anything.”
He opened the other hand, “Or, you can take the parachute and jump. It will not be an easy jump, but once you land, you can go wherever you want. You can reach whatever destination you want, using whichever path you want.”
Then he turned both palms over. “But choose quickly”, he said, “Because a storm is coming, and you will not be able to jump once it does.”
I mustered up my courage and asked, “Where is the plane going?”
He shook his head and said, “You already know.”
And I did. I already knew, but I didn’t want to know. Somehow, my mind kept resisting the idea. I didn’t want to jump out of the plane. I knew it would be difficult, but I also knew, somehow, that the man would help me. Still, my mind desperately wanted to stay on the plane, to enjoy the ride.
But I knew, very well, where the plane was going.
Because I had gotten on to this plane, a while back, knowing in the back of my mind where it was going, but not willing to accept it, because the plane’s interior had been so comfortable. I had searched around for things to do, and I had found the plane, but I had not stopped myself before I could embark on this journey.
The parachute was ready, but still my traitorous mind rebelled. “What if it’s a hoax? What if the plane really is going somewhere good, and I’m just missing the opportunity? What if the man is wrong, and I can get to where I want to go using the plane? And anyway, there’ll be time to jump out later.”
But I knew the truth. The plane wasn’t going anywhere good. It would drop me into a hole worse than the one I had come from, and then getting out would mean doing things much harder than jumping out of a plane with a parachute and a guiding voice.
I had to jump. But my mind, my treacherous mind, was fighting me, every step of the way. Getting up from the huge bed I was on – and yes, I was on a huge bed, took so much effort, I almost turned back. Every step made me feel heavier. Thousands of voices, doubts and fears, crept up behind me. The plane itself started telling me to turn back.
But I didn’t stop. I walked towards the parachute. The old, patchy parachute. A new set of doubts rose in me. Would the parachute hold? Maybe I would just fall, and fall, and fall. The effort to get out of that hole would be just as much as that of the plane’s destination. Maybe I really should turn back.
But I didn’t. I fought the voices of doubt, of greed, and of complacency. I trudged onward, and fastened the parachute. Then, I opened the plane door.
The plane pleaded with me. “No! Don’t go! It’s safe here, don’t go!”
But I had to leave it behind. I took a deep breath, and jumped.
As I left the plane behind, my eyes closed, and I reappeared in my room. Then, I put away the piece of paper I was doodling on, and started studying.
Even now, the old regrets sometimes haunt me. Should I have stayed on the plane, where it was relaxing? But deep down, I know, that what I did was right. I know, that the Plane of Comfort was leading me on a self-destructive spiral. And I know, that the hard path, was the right one. The path that I took, took courage, and willpower, but it was, indeed, the right path.
And I wouldn’t change it, for anything.