Have you ever been inside a hotel or other fancy building where the ceiling is painted to look like the sky? The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas is a perfect example. The ceiling is painted to look like the idyllic spring sky: crisp and blue with white clouds.
The painting is so artfully done, it’s completely possible to forget for a moment that you are inside. But it is different from the real sky, outdoors. Outdoors, the breeze blows. You have to adjust the direction you face so your hair doesn’t get into your eyes. Crickets chirp. Birds, tweet. The pictures you find in the clouds become distorted until you no longer recognize them.
The real sky doesn’t stay blue forever, though. It gets dark. The clouds in the distance are no longer white and fluffy. They are dark and foreboding. They promise rain. As the clouds approach, you begin to hear the rumbling of electricity in the air. You know there is a thunderstorm approaching. You start to head back inside, hoping to not get too drenched in the process!
As the rain begins to pound on you, you long for the sweet images of blue skies and fluffy clouds in the fake sky. That sky was so sweet and blue. As you rush inside, under the fake sky, you realize that there’s no fresh, crisp breeze. There’s no smell of grass. No birds chirping. The clouds aren’t moving. Nothing is moving. It is stagnant. Unprogressing.
This fake sky is a counterfeit. It has the initial appearance of the real thing, but it cannot completely replicate the original. After being outside in the torrential rain, though, it is a welcome sight.
This is a cautionary tale. When a counterfeit does a good job of replicating the original, we can begin to appreciate the counterfeit even more than the original. Because the real sky can be unpredictable, we get tired of being stuck in the trials of thunderstorms. We may begin to prefer the fake sky. The safe sky. The sky that will never leave us feeling the joyful rush as we breathe in the fresh smell of grass after a rainstorm. The sky that will never give us an opportunity to dance in the rain. The sky that will never allow us to hear birdsong. The sky that will never allow us to progress.
This is not how life was meant to be. We must be willing to venture out from the fake and the counterfeit in life, face the thunderstorms, and learn to appreciate them. We must never become content with the counterfeit.