My family and I are in the midst of our Outback Adventure right now. We’ve just arrived at Ayers Rock after a 2800km journey from our home in Sydney in a campervan.
It has been truly epic so far and there are many new experiences awaiting us as we explore Uluru and the Olga’s before heading to Alice Springs.
But amongst the opal mining, dingo and emu spotting, stunning scenery, family debates, too much chocolate and a numb bum in the drivers seat came an unexpectedly valuable and powerful lesson about the paradigms and limited thinking we can get stuck in.
I wonder if you can see yourself in this?
It was around 3.30pm this afternoon. We were coming close to our ultimate destination, just 170 kms to Ayers Rock.
We started to scan the horizon, eager to see one of the most famous landmarks of Australia.
And there she was – standing out in majestic contrast to the neverending desert flatness we’d been travelling through for hours.
Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it’s now known.
The sheer size of this incredible feat of nature was astounding. It was breathtaking. I was in awe.
Until my husband voiced his doubts.
“I don’t think that’s the rock actually”, he said.
I actually scoffed in response.
“We’ve been travelling for hours. We’re so close now – the landscape is perfectly flat and then a bloody great big rock looms on the horizon – the biggest rock I’ve ever seen.. of COURSE it’s Ayers Rock, how could it be anything BUT Ayers Rock” I asserted in that tone (you may know the one?)
I even pulled over into the very next rest area and insisted we take the classic “we’ve made it check out what’s in the background” family photo.
And then we got back in the van and kept driving to our camp site
With me still marvelling at the sheer size, scale and magnificence of Ayers Rock, despite my husbands quiet assertion that he thought it was actually a little large for the famous rock.
And then I saw it.
The very large sign pointing back to the rock with the very large lettering saying “Mount Conner”.
It wasn’t Ayers Rock at all!
I just googled the phenomena tonight and found out that it’s often referred to as Fool-uru – “After a surge of excitement and a flurry of photos, it eventually dawns on most tourists that this rock actually looks quite different from Uluru’s famous silhouette”.
Red face for me. I ate my words. My lovely husband chose not to rub it in. My kids were not quite so generous!
But what was the lesson?
We sometimes see what we want to see
We sometimes see what we expect to see.
We can sometimes even manage to ignore what is blindingly obvious to others and see only what we believe is possible.
We can sometimes build walls of beliefs, or rather, misbeliefs, around ourselves without realising it.
If we are not careful, we can stubbornly, through self-righteousness or fear, refuse to see the truth of a situation.
It was a significant AHA moment for me.
Even though I had never been to Uluru before, I held a very clear expectation of what I was going to see and so, when I saw something that appeared to fit my expectation, I latched onto it. I fiercely defended my point of view.
And it was dead wrong!
It led me to ponder, where else might I be getting things very, very wrong?
Where else might my pre-conceived ideas of how things are be tripping me up?
What other ways might I be bending actual reality to fit my version of reality?
And most importantly, where might my perceptions of myself, my capabilities and what’s truly possible, open and available to me be hampered because of my false beliefs?
What if I did not have the benefit of someone close to me to gently and lovingly removing my blinkers or helping me see past my blind spots?
Today I opened my eyes a little wider.
I took off my own blinkers.
I recognised that if there was one thing I was wrong about when I was utterly convinced I was right, there just might be other things too.
And so I committed to being just a little more open-minded and curious today.
I reckon that’s going to be a very valuable lesson for me in my Next Chapter.
Might it be helpful for you too?