[Originally written September 2005]
Imagine, for a moment, that it's tomorrow morning.
You wake slowly out of a detailed, achingly realistic dream of being able to fly. It's always been a secret longing of yours, and you let go of the dream grudgingly -- but as you wake, you realize that something feels strange. You turn over and open your eyes, and discover your body is hovering several inches above the bed.
Unsure whether you're awake or asleep, you push against the wall and find yourself drifting away. You press your feet against the mattress and rise until you hit the ceiling -- and your head hurts. As you experiment with your newfound semi-weightless quality, you slowly come to realize that you're not dreaming. All the "rules" of flight in your dream seem to apply in reality, and it doesn't take very long before you're literally ricocheting off the walls and ceiling, hooting with giddy delight.
You're more than ready to take this outside and try soaring in the open air, when you receive a strong and inescapable impression: this new gift comes with a price. If you wish to be able to fly, you must give up your ability to communicate to others. No speaking, singing, writing, drawing, sign language, pointing to printed words -- nothing other than your facial expressions to let others know what you are feeling and thinking, for the rest of your life.
Would that be a fair trade?
The gift of flight is, of course, a fictional supposition -- although I hope that choice is never one I have to make. Because although the thought of being able to fly is absolutely wonderful, being able to write is an inextricable part of who I am. There are days when I believe that if I couldn't write, I'd go insane. I don't think I could exchange one gift for the other. And make no mistake about it -- the ability to communicate is a gift on par with flight.
What about people who choose to give up or suppress something rare and precious within themselves for the questionable "gift" of fitting in? If the popular people laughed at your talents, would you squelch those talents to gain their approval? Would you give up your kindness, your gentleness, to be like everyone else? Would you jettison your faith to be popular?
Is popularity truly a gift, on par with flight or communication or the gift of being oneself? What good does it do you, and how long will it last?