The black fly was steadily crawling up and down my kitchen window screen. It was desperately − but methodically − seeking an escape, to get beyond the imprisoning panel of the screen, into the wide, open world.
It could smell the refreshing air. It could sense the gust of cool wind blowing across its long transparent wings and short stubby legs. This taste of freedom motivated the industrious fly to continue its painstaking pursuit to reach into that thrilling liberty.
Watching the fly, I realized that unless I provide some assistance, I’d be hearing it buzzing in my ears and disturbing my sleep at night. So I pushed the screen wide open; its escape now made easily attainable.
“Go on, just fly a little to the left and you’ll be free,” I said aloud, as my four-year-old and I sat at our kitchen table, closely observing it.
Inexplicably, though, the fly continued its regimented climb, on the same thread of the screen. Unaware of the open gap, it persisted fruitlessly in its stubborn search for a small hole to make its exit.
I’m told that wild animals that have been confined for a long time react similarly when the lock on their cage is finally released. They continue their nervous, circular pace around the parameters of their prison home, before finally venturing through the open door into their sought after freedom.
And, if you think about it, human beings do the same thing.
How often have you tried to break out of an old and irritating habit or an unhealthy outlook, only to be held back, caged in by the parameters of your imprisoning addiction?
How often have you wished for the freedom of change? How often have you wished for a change in a negative pattern of thinking; a change in an automatic, emotionally triggered response; a change in your habits or routines; a change from the confining, “in your box” way of thinking or acting?
But, like the fly on my window screen, imprisoned by our routines, fenced in by our comfort zones, captured by the familiarity of what we know − rather than what we’d like to be − most of us, too, are unable to take the plunge and experience the much dreamed-of exhilaration of reaching our uninhibited, full potential.
“An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free,” say our Sages.
In such situations, perhaps only the listening ear of a close friend or mentor can lend us the much needed courage, assistance and direction to forge into a better, emancipated reality.
Eventually, that fly did make its way out. But, it flew away only after my daughter and I repeatedly “pushed” it towards the open screen − and towards its freedom.
Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Souland Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.