One day a man woke up in a strange world. He first believed himself to still be dreaming, but as the day wore on he found this really to be the real world. It just didn’t look right.
The problem was he couldn’t see with his full view. He always felt as if he was looking through a camera that was zoomed in all the way. When he took a step into the kitchen from the hallway, he failed to see the chair right under his nose until his face was on the ground. He began feeling around to protect his step, but he found all his senses but sight were useless.
Grappling to touch the chair he had just tripped on, he couldn’t feel what it was. He knew it to be a chair, but only from his memory of the house. As his fingers skimmed the surface of the wood, he hardly could distinguish it from the walls he hit earlier. The normally small leg of the chair was too big to fit in his hand by some fluke of nature.
Standing, he began to ponder his fate. Maybe if he focused more closely on the small scope of his sight, he could figure out where he was and feel his way around. This worked while he had a guide—his memory—but upon entering his car to drive to work he found his newfound eagle eyes would not be of use. Even just looking out his windshield, he found his eyes only could focus on the bugs smeared across the glass—which seemed to be the size of his outstretched hand. If he could stretch his view beyond that, it only saw the rocks on the ground directly in front of the car.
“Well, this is no use!” declared the unfortunate man. He went back in the house, because he saw that he would only be a hazard if he were to drive anywhere. But he had to get to work. Thankfully, he lived just half a mile from his work, so he determined to walk. First he must warn his boss that he’d be late.
Finding the phone proved just as difficult as driving out the driveway. But dialing was the worst! He managed to call his boss and even to walk the half a mile to the building, only to fall on the steps. When his coworker came out to help him up, he couldn’t tell who she was. Every time he blinked, he only saw a few strands of her hair as she pulled him up, or the texture of her leather shoes as they walked to the door.
By the lunch hour, he was too worn out to hear the reports his coworkers brought to their supervisor. By a mere miracle, he reached home again to hear his wife calling out to him. But try as he might, he could not find where she was in this whole wide world. He heard her say hello and even felt her quick embrace. He answered her concerned questions as to his early work leave with, “I don’t feel well,'” but he never could tell what angle he should focus at. Finally he shouted as loud as he could, “Where are you?” when she had stopped speaking.
“Why, dear, I’m right here. Can’t you see me?” she asked, now genuinely concerned. He then explained why the chair was overturned and the phone mangled. He couldn’t see at all! She led him by the hand back to his room and laid him down. He closed his eyes as he heard her say words that only confused him.
“Step out, step back, look out and look back. Step out, step back, look out and look back.”
Suddenly, he awoke once again. But he was unwilling to open his eye for fear of what he might see—or not see, as the case may be. He heard his wife murmuring to herself in their shared bathroom. She was repeating those words she had said as he had fallen asleep last afternoon. It was the words to the poem she was memorizing. He gathered his courage and opened his eyes, to see his hand was completely normal and he could even see the numbers on his clock.
He realized it was all a dream when the date was the same as it was when he woke up the first time. But he never picked up a magnifying glass again.
That day, after work, he said only one thing to his wife. “Honey, I think we ought to go take a vacation next week. I think we need to take a step back from everything and get the bigger picture of our lives.”
Focusing on ourselves leaves us confused and angry. To step out and look out and help others gives us a better picture of our lives and where we fit in to this world.