Not too long ago, I had the chance to view the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” which of course stars the well-known deaf actress Marlee Matlin. Now, I am not here to critique this movie. You might have liked it…or you might have dismissed it as little more than “New Age Bullshit.” I can’t say that I thought it was the best movie I have ever seen, nor for that matter was I overly impressed with Marlee’s acting. In fact, the part of the movie that attracted me more were the interviews where various individuals would make some interesting comments – some of which I have found closely relate to the whole concept of what firewalking is really all about. I would have to say my favorite quote from the movie is probably the following:
If you accept with every rudiment of your being that you can walk on water, will it happen?
Yes, it will.
It’s like positive thinking. It’s a wonderful idea – positive thinking.
But what it usually means is that you have a little smear of positive thinking covering a whole mass of negative thinking.
So positive thinking is not really thinking positive.
It’s just disguising the negative thinking we actually have.
Let’s rephrase it just a bit for the sake of this blog…
If you accept with every rudiment of your being that you can walk on fire without getting burned, will it happen?
Yes, it will.
But as this quote goes on to say…it’s a question of positive thinking vs. negative thinking.
I once began a firewalking, where most of the participants were themselves deaf, by asking the question:
“Do you believe that deaf people can do anything except hear?”
Of course, everyone’s hand shot up, and there were strong affirmative nods.
I then followed up by stating…
“Well, if that is the case…then I expect each and every one of you to be able to walk the fire this evening!”
It was clear from the reactions and facial expressions of those very same individuals that they were having to rethink that whole concept.
Uh-oh. Negative thinking rearing its ugly head here?
Can deaf people truly do anything???
Or has that quote just become our own little “smear” of positive thinking in an attempt to cover up years and years of negative thinking? Do we truly believe it…or are we just giving lip service to the idea, without the willingness to truly act upon it?
Now, in all fairness, this “hypocrisy” (for lack of a better term) doesn’t just apply to Deafies alone. Everyone is guilty of it. The harsh reality is that most of us fall victim to that 10% of positive thinking which masks the 90% of negative thinking that actually pervades our mind.
It’s like an iceberg. What we see out there is only the tip…and that tip of the iceberg might indeed look beautiful and positive and relatively harmless. But as the Titanic found out, there’s a whole lot more to that iceberg lying underneath the surface, and that large underwater mass can be quite deadly.
That’s the way it is with positive and negative thinking…our thoughts are like that iceberg. We have positive thoughts, which is what we reveal (or at least attempt to) to the world at large, and even to ourselves. But dive underneath the surface, and we are forced to deal with our own reality…and that reality often includes a whole lot of negative thinking that prevents us from accomplishing what we are really capable of doing.
When you walk on fire…you have to confront that iceberg. You have to delve beyond the tip into that mass underneath. Walking the fire strips away at the smear and forces you to have to confront that mass of negative thinking. You’ve got to accept with every rudiment of your being that you can walk this fire…and you will be okay in doing so.
That’s easier said than done. We all like to preach the concept of positive thinking, but putting it into practice can be difficult. There always seems to be some room for that self-doubt there. There always seems to be a part of us that isn’t so sure…that still thinks “wellll, I don’t really believe I can…”
Even the quote about Deaf People still leaves some room for self-doubt…because it says that deaf people can do anything – EXCEPT…
Okay, granted…deaf people can’t hear (although I could challenge that, since most deaf people can hear SOMETHING…just that their hearing isn’t within defined “normal” range.)
But the point is, when you start to add words like “except” to the equation, you’re leaving some room for self-doubt. Deaf people can do anything…except hear. What comes next? Except speak? Except think and decide for themselves? Except hold jobs? Except walk on fire?
Why do we need to have a negative ending to that statement? Why can’t it simply be
Deaf People Can Do Anything…Period!
It’s not that having that negative thinking is necessarily bad. But it does prevent us from making things happen. Maybe it’s not your goal to walk on fire, or walk on water. But what about all the other stuff that we desire to do in our lives – find good jobs, engage in healthy relationships, live in relative prosperity?
“Self Imposed Limitations.” Those negative thought patterns that we have conditioned ourselves to believe in can really be a killer. And they can be mighty hard to get rid of. Changing our belief system can be a real challenge indeed. But it is essential if we are to truly discover all the possibilities…and all the possible selves.
“I am much more than I think I am.
I can be much more even than that.
I can influence my environment.
I can influence space itself.
I can influence the future.
I am responsible for all those things.
I and the surround are not separate.
They’re part of one.
I’m connected to it all.
I am not alone.
The movie is right…
We ARE much more than we think we are.
And we CAN be much more even than that.
Virginia L. Beach, a.k.a. “Ocean” is the world’s first and only Deaf individual to be certified by the Firewalking Institute for Research and Education (F.I.R.E.). Here she is seen participating in a firewalk near Yosemite National Park in California, navigating her way over a 12-foot firebed with coals measured at 1400 degrees. And her feet are just fine, thanks!