I believe in the power of the mind, particularly using the mind as a tool for escape. My favorite book, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly utilizes this belief as one of its central messages. The auto-biography contains a riveting tale of reflection and personal perseverance through the memories of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a man who was editor of French Elle before suffering a massive stroke that left him in a coma. He eventually emerged from the coma and awoke to an acquired affliction called Locked-In Syndrome. His story was recorded by a transcriber through a system of repeating the alphabet in order of the letters most frequently used in the French language and interpreting Bauby’s movements made by his non-paralyzed left eyelid. My favorite quote from the memoir and a statement that portrays my belief flawlessly is a quote from Bauby’s days in his tiny hospital room, a room that he originally believes is restricting and his days spent there seem to contain no time or value. He reveals after further reflection on his struggle, that while confined internally “my diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly.”
While I have never experienced a condition that left me incapable of moving or voicing my opinion, I have always suffered from a self-inflicted case of exceptional shyness. I enjoyed my childhood immensely, but with reflection I realize that this enjoyment did not come from my friendships or interactions, but was rather derived from my interests; interests that were expressed and explored internally. The first interest that I truly came to recognize was poetry. The interest was brought to my attention in the 3rd grade, by a teacher named Mrs. Armstrong who made my class and I write in poetry journals every day. The twenty minutes spent daily in silence inspired personal reflection and internal inquisitiveness. I would surrender to my mind, only pausing to explore individual thoughts that implored to be a source of inspiration. These thoughts simultaneously consumed me and freed me of my self-inflicted confinements as they landed haphazardly onto the pristine pages that waited to reflect my thoughts and become a map of my mind. As I learned further of poetry, I learned further of myself. I feel that poetry was the first time that my “handicap” of shyness did not come to hinder the interest that derived from the interaction between my teacher and my class. The poetry I wrote won awards and was published, but more importantly, helped me discover myself at the time.
8 years have passed and I’m still terribly affected by my shyness. Although affected by it, I have been able to manipulate my inverted nature into internal exploration and I have been able to further my interests in writing, film, photography, and poetry. While I may be hindered by my immense shyness, my diving bell, it has created opportunities to explore interests internally, and have my mind take flight like a butterfly.