The Man With the Dark Glasses

a fairy tale by Bernard Lietaer

Once upon a time there was a man who wore dark glasses. He had been wearing dark glasses for so many years that he had forgotten he had them on. As time passed, he became increasingly depressed, because everything seemed darker than he remembered from his childhood--particularly the sky, which even at noonday always appeared dark and gloomy. One day while taking his morning walk he decided to consult a scientist to ask "Why is the sky always so dark?" The scientist smiled and pulled out a big book filled with equations and diagrams. He shoed the man that science had proven that the sky really is indeed black: the blue color that most people see is actually an illusion due to the interference of the sunlight with the air. The man was instantly relieved and felt suddenly proud to be one of the only people who saw the sky the way it really was.

The next day he went out to tell everyone he knew that the sky was really black and they should all see it the way he did. You can guess what happened: Even though he now knew the sky was really black, he became even more depressed than before, because nobody else saw it the way it really was.

So, when he couldn't stand it anymore, he decided to go see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist told him to lie down on the big couch and close his eyes, and began to ask him many questions about his childhood--how he got along with his mother, how he got along with his father, how he got along with his sisters and brothers. After many such questions, the psychiatrist explained that it was perfectly logical that he should feel depressed, and that he could be completely cured if he came to visit every week.

One day the man returned home from his psychiatrist, feeling worse than ever, only to find his five-year-old grandchild on the doorstep to greet him. He was so pleased, he invited her in and they began to play their favorite games. At one point, while the little girl was riding horsey on her grandfather's knees, she grabbed for the bridle of the horse and the dark glasses fell off the man's nose. The man suddenly became aware that he had been wearing these dark glasses all along. He began to look around him and he noticed that the sky outside his window was blue again. He then understood that the problem was not the color of the sky or even himself, but the fact that he had gotten so used to seeing through his glasses that he had forgotten he had the choice to put them on or not. He realized that he could even change the color of the sky by changing the color of his glasses.

Sometimes, things are just too obvious to be seen.

the epilogue, in which the tale comes true