Choose Greatness

We move in the direction of our dominant thoughts

Once upon a time there was a man who made his living selling newspapers on a downtown street corner. He lived in a damp room that was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.

All that he was aware of was his newspapers, his simple room, the odd fitting second-hand clothing he wore and his frugal meals he ate.

He was vaguely aware that others lived differently than himself but it was as difficult to imagine that other world as it would have been for a mudhen to imagine itself an eagle slowing circling higher and higher, caught in the heart of a swirling uplift.

Every morning, when he awakened, eyelids still clogged by the effects of sleep, his first thought was to see himself standing on his corner hawking the newspapers. His visualization was almost always the same, half a dozen papers under his left arm and a single newspaper held in his right hand as he shouted out the headline in a raspy voice hoarsened by years of abuse.

Some mornings, still with his eyes closed, he would picture someone give him a dollar and say, "Keep the change." On these mornings, he would open his eyes and smile. It would be a good day.

As he ate a simple breakfast of biscuits, bacon, and coffee, he would think about how many newspapers to buy. If he felt good he would order as many as half as much more than his normal order. If he did not feel good he would order only half as many as his normal order.

As he walked to work, if he were to see a beautiful woman, he would visualize himself selling her a newspaper. If he were to see a well dressed man he would think, "That one's gotta be good for a dime tip." If he saw a policeman, he would picture himself giving the officer a newspaper and the policeman would smile at him.

If he passed a stockbroker's office, he would imagine all the brokers busily engaged in reading his newspapers.

He related everything to the newspapers. They were his life, his world, his reality. Everything that he was conscious of he would in some manner or other relate to newspapers.

He believed himself to be a small, raspy-voiced failure of a man selling newspapers. And so he was, for he only accepted information that reinforced that belief. He enclosed himself in a structure he himself had built, brick by brick.

Every time he bought a worn-out pair of pants, he added a brick. Every time he brought home a day-old loaf of bread to save fifteen cents he added a brick. Every time he sold a newspaper he added a brick.

In the mornings, before he slowly pushed himself out of bed, when he imagined himself selling newspapers and perhaps receiving a tip for his efforts, and in the evening when he thought of the torn paper, he added the mortar.

And so he lived, and so he died, never knowing that he was an eagle all the while. An eagle bound with the most senseless chains of all: those of a limited awareness.

For what good is being an eagle if you believe yourself to be an earth-bound mudhen?

-Burt Goldman

Burt Goldman

About Burt Goldman

Award winning Silva Lecturer and Worldwide Ambassador of Good Will for the Silva organizations.