In 2010 I reluctantly took my five-year-old grandson Britton to see the movie Tangled, a movie loosely based on the German fairy tale Rapunzel. I am not a cartoon fan, but I must admit that I liked the movie a lot.
Rapunzel was born a daughter of the King and then kidnapped as an infant by an evil woman named Gothel. Raised in a high tower and not allowed to leave for any reason, Rapunzel had no idea who she really was. Meanwhile her true parents released thousands of sky lanterns every year on her birthday hoping for the safe return of their lost princess.
The climax of the story comes on the day Rapunzel turns 18. Venturing away from her childhood prison, she travels with a bandit named Flynn Rider to see the lanterns and finally realizes who she really is. Flynn also realizes that he was not meant to be a thief but to become a respectable young man and marry into royalty.
This story is make believe….or is it? Far too many of us remain locked in our own “towers” and fail to see the possibilities outside, while others become involved in activities that hold them back from realizing who they are.
Several years ago, an elderly woodcarver in Spring, Texas, taught me something about envisioning my potential. I was with a group of friends walking down the streets of Old Spring, a collection of small, unique shops. One window that caught my interest was filled with interesting woodcarvings. Upon entering the store, I noticed an older man sitting just inside the door carving a large block of wood. Several of our group gathered around him. We were amazed at his talent, especially an intricately carved bust of a Native American.
Gazing appreciatively at this work of art, someone in our group asked, “How in the world did you accomplish this?” The old man replied, “Well, I’ll tell you. I just carved away everything that wasn’t an Indian chief, and this is what was left!” He had obviously envisioned exactly what the final product should look like and worked until it matched that image. It occurred to me that this woodcarver could create anything out of wood as long as he began with a light or vision from within. However, if he didn’t have an idea of what he was creating, the result would be a bunch of wood shavings.
The old man echoed the famous words of Italian sculptor Michelangelo, who frequently described his work similarly: “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” And, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
To be set free to become your best self, you must be able to envision the possibilities. Vision is defined as the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be. One woman gifted with such vision was Helen Keller. Because of a severe illness, she became blind and deaf at eighteen months of age. When Helen was about seven years old, Anne Sullivan, only twenty at the time, became her teacher and friend. Anne taught Helen to see the light or envision who she could become. Helen graduated Cum Laude from Radcliffe College, becoming the first blind and deaf person ever to graduate from college. She authored twelve books and inspired millions of people. A reporter once asked Helen how it felt to not see her dreams being fulfilled. She replied, “The only thing worse than being blind is having eyes to see, but having no vision.”
Do we have eyes to see the light that shows where we are going in life? Helen Keller helped people throughout the world create the vision of who they could become. She felt as Spencer W. Kimball did when he said, “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask, Why not?”
And then there are those who simply say, “Not me.” Merlin Lybbert told the following story: “An enterprising turkey gathered the flock together and, following instructions and demonstrations, taught them how to fly. All afternoon they enjoyed soaring and flying and the thrill of seeing new vistas. After the meeting, all of the turkeys walked home.” You may have experienced moments when visionaries taught you how to fly. However, when your time has come to soar, you have doubted your abilities and remained earthbound. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
Remember that you are limited not by your abilities but by your vision. French writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry said, “A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” Those merely drifting along in life cease to be ordinary when they see the image of who they really are and do something about it. That is what happened to Rapunzel and Flynn why they could passionately sing these words:
And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
We are all born royalty and have a great mission to accomplish in life.
Without seeing the light, we watch from our windows as others accomplish great things.
Spend time this week pondering who you currently are and what you want to accomplish in life. What will the cathedral look like that you are going to build with the rocks you have been given? Take a few minutes to watch the video clip of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi singing “I See the Light.” As you watch notice the difference in how they look when they are recording the song and how they look performing it live.