I remember the first time I looked at one of those images of patterns, lines, and shapes. The ones that you stare at for a long time and magically something else entirely appears from the fourth dimension. I was given a small book full of them, I think it was called, “Do you see what I see?”, but that’s just a guess.
I never could get the magic to work. Page after page, I would stare at in concentration. I tried squinting, backing away, holding it real close, I couldn’t get the stupid book to look like anything other than some random lines and shapes. Eventually I got rid of the book.
These things pop up all over, office buildings, waiting rooms, magazines, and to this day, I’ve never been able to see the hidden picture. Part of me wants to believe that it’s just a big conspiracy, that someone is playing a prank on everyone, and all the people that say they see something in the pictures are just trying to fit in.
The fact is there is a picture behind the random shapes and lines, I’m just not one of the gifted people who can see it. Now that I’m older, I’ve quit trying and I accept that I’ll never be able to see the image. I think that’s a part of growing up, deciding what battles are worth fighting and which ones are lost causes.
And as we grow into our teenage years and twenties, most of us start to see a picture form in front of us, a passion, a career, a dream to change the world, to travel, to write a novel. We want to take on the biggest battles, and believe we will win. Not only have I seen this happening with the people around me, it is clearly conveyed in books and movies, that eventually we decide these are just childish interpretations of the world around us and that image we thought we saw starts to turn back into random lines and dots. Those pictures turn into dreams, and then into lost causes, and we tell ourselves we will get to it when we retire. How silly of that teenage you that thought they could do what millions of others couldn’t. But now you’re old and you watch the excitement in the young faces and you applaud them for their effort, but you know the futility of their efforts.
I am smack dap in the heart of those teenage dream years, and I’m frightfully approaching my twenties. I’m standing in front of an image of lines and dots, trying to make it take shape, even if I don’t know what that shape is supposed to be. Those same childish doubts start to creep in, maybe some people are just destined to be able to see the picture and some people are doomed to just see blurry lines.
But that’s just a lie we all buy, isn’t it? A lie that makes it easy for all of us to give up on straining our eyes to try and make something out of nothing. Just like that book of lines and dots, the only people that get to see it are the ones who don’t give up. They are patient and persistent and they don’t give up. The rest of us decide to step back and call it a lost cause and tell ourselves that there is no bigger picture. That it is impossible to see anything but a bunch of random lines, the puzzle is just too hard.
The big secret is God really is forming something big for you, the trick is to stick with it, even when you feel like giving up. So, maybe you think it is just my exuberant teenage ambition that drives me to think good can come of the work I’m doing, or that I just haven’t learned how the real world works. All I can say is the picture looks different for each person, and if you could see what I see, maybe you wouldn’t be so quick to quit on our own passion, because I promise there really is something there, you just have to fight for it, and that’s the beauty of it.