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The Fed Ex Revelation

July 6, 2010

An erudite reader sent in this quote from John Milton:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself

       Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”


Exactly how important is this truth?

How often do I let my menial mental mishagos eclipse the joy that is always there and is my birthright?

Sometimes I wonder: Where is the Switch – the one that allows the joy to flow, or not? Where’s the Control Room? I think of a call I’m dreading, and the clouds come. I remember last night with Shelley and I smile all over. Who runs these thoughts? I suspect that if I ever locate that Control Room I’ll find there’s no one home; that my brain was programmed long ago and runs on long-obsolete software.

It’s all about perspective – seeing what’s actually there, or projecting something else entirely. Recently I bought a bottle of juice with a tamper-evident cap. The plastic cap had a round ring attached below it. I found myself cursing at it as I tried in vain, with my nails, and then a knife, to cut the ring off. Then Shelley took it from me and opened it – just like that! By twisting the cap! I had projected difficulty onto the bottle. But it was I who was difficult.

This made me wonder: what else do I make hard that’s easy? What else don’t I see that’s right there?

This brings me to the Fed Ex Revelation.

What do you see in this logo? 

 Sometimes we don’t see what’s right in front of us. But imbedded in this brilliant logo is an optical message that conveys exactly what Federal Express does.

(Look again.)

I’ve shown this to countless people who tell me they don’t see a thing. And neither could I until one day it just popped out at me! And it made me wonder:

What else don’t I see that’s right in front of my face?

Here’s another example: I was sitting there on the Q train one evening and I look over to notice a young black woman, with long painted nails, sitting next to me drawing lines on one of those mindless word-find books (where you draw circles to connect letters to form words on the page). 

She catches me looking down at her “work” and smiles.

I put down my New York Times Op-Ed page long enough to say, “Trying to keep the mental muscles going, eh?” 

“Oh yes!” she says. “I like to make connections and see things that weren’t apparent at first. Doing this trains my mind so at work I can look at problems in new ways.”

Womp! In a  moment this woman shifted my perspective on something that helps shift hers (not to mention how she also shifted my perspective on her!). We then had a conversation about subliminal advertising and her attempts at bringing a humanistic approach to online projects at her job.

I had dismissed this woman, and what she was doing, as vapid. What else do I dismiss?

So have you found what’s in that logo yet?

Here it is again, in a simpler form:  


When I take a second look, and go beyond my mind’s certainty that it already knows all it needs to know, I can see old things in new ways.

There’s a Jewish story from back in the old country of a poor man who came to his rabbi for help:

“Rabbi! My house is too small for my wife and 5 children. We’re all on top of each other and we’re fighting all the time. What can I do?”

“Do you have any sheep?” The rabbi asked.

“Yes – I have one,” the man responded.

“Move it into your house for the next week.”

So a week later the man returns.

“Rabbi! I did what you said, but it made things worse! Now we have even less room and my house smells like crazy!”

“Do you have any goats?” the Rabbi asked.

“Two, ” the man said with some apprehension.

“Move them in with the sheep, and come back in seven days.”

Another week goes by. The man returns, tearing his hair out because his whole family is starting to go mad.

“Any chickens?” the rabbi asked.

Finally, the following week, the poor man returned, pleading to the rabbi for a solution.

“Ok. Take the sheep, the goats and the chickens and move them all out.”

The next week the man returned.

“Rabbi! You’re a genius! We never knew we had so much room!”

So here’s that logo one last time.  


Do you notice anything between the last two letters?

The arrow imbedded between the “E” and the “x” tells us what the company does.

There are times I suspect the very distance between joy and depression – like Milton’s “heav’n and hell”  — is equal only to a slight tilt in perspective.

Today’s Joygasm:

 “To the frog at the bottom of the well, the sky appears to be small and round.” – Chinese proverb.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:00 am

    Or as Moshe Feldenkrais used to say, “I am not afraid of what I do not know. I am afraid of that which I believe to be true. Once I believe something to be true, I no longer question it.”

  2. July 6, 2010 5:42 pm

    like this one!

  3. roy alexander permalink
    July 6, 2010 7:31 pm

    Did you have to let everyone in on the FedEx arrow secret?

    • ellen permalink
      July 6, 2010 8:49 pm

      I thought you were talking about the importance and vitality of the word “Express.”

  4. July 6, 2010 9:09 pm

    I saw a choo-choo train myself.

    This reminds me of the German Idealist philosopher Johann Fichte, who thought that it is our will, directing our attention, that gives the world value. Since we, as willing, desiring beings, inhabit a world not of mere fact but of value, in giving the world value, our will also gives the world its very reality.

    There certainly is something to this. By directing our attention, shifting the focal point of our awareness, we can change our reality.

    But an equally common experience judges reality by what resists our will, rather than what is shaped by our will. The “real” is what pushes back at us.

    Most of us most of the time tend to be fixated on reality as a resisting object. I think mental health professionals tend to focus more on the idealist perspective because, after all, they work on the mind, not the material objects that the mind confronts.

  5. July 6, 2010 9:55 pm

    So you’re saying Fed Ex delivers arrows?

  6. Dave Abramowitz permalink
    July 7, 2010 4:20 am

    Poor Ed has lost his mind “fixating,” he thinks. “on reality as a resisting object. He sounds to me like Don Quixote getting ready to charge at windmills.

  7. Suzanne Samelson permalink
    July 7, 2010 7:15 pm

    Thanks, Charley. This was a wonderful read. And it took me all the way to the end to see the essence of the FedEx logo. Suzanne

  8. Stuart Levinson permalink
    July 8, 2010 1:55 am


    I will keep looking, but the words of wisdom and perceptual contentment are invigorating. Stay well.


  9. Dave Abramowitz permalink
    July 8, 2010 4:00 pm

    Poor Ed,again – My Aunt Sophie says, “He should think better. His ‘will’ has nothing to do with it.”

    At hearing that, my old Aunt Yetta said. “Poor Ed should get down on his knees and pray and forget that fahcahctah Fichte’s philosophy.”

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