I always try and think of reality as an abstract concept which helps me from internalizing strife. The idea that reality is based on perception, that it is only what you see it to be; combats the part of me that over thinks everything.
The problem with reality is that it is so real. I gravitate toward books that have some kind of alternate reality setting or plot. A “what if” scenario depicting a utopian and or dystopian view of society or the world, which leads me to put myself in the characters shoes. Wanting and wishing to be anywhere else than the present.
As I got older, I realized it was possible to alter your current reality in certain ways. I’m referring to drugs and alcohol; each with their own best and worst versions of yourself and reality. Each, change your brain chemistry to experience your reality in a different way. This all seems fine and dandy… until it’s not. These rely on your state of mind reacting to the chemicals. Once you determine how reality is perceived sober, this little illusion based item takes it up a notch or several notches depending on your poison.
As a mentally stimulated person, physical alterations don’t actually work for me. It makes me feel out of control. So I continue to use books to escape somewhere else and feel like someone other than myself. Movies, TV and social media come as also less healthy ways of escaping. I gravitate to anything to forget where I am and what my place is in the world. To face reality and its harsh truths, to be confronted by your own mentality is not always something I want to do. Forcing me not to think about it, shutting down if you will is one of the greatest escapes.
That’s when I discovered music festivals. A place where everyone is collectively enjoying an experience, where you are encouraged to be yourself, act and dress as an individual with no ties to social hierarchy, stigma or expectations. It is a destination, where anyone welcomes everyone with open arms regardless of who you are. The culture itself is an alternate reality, a utopia of sorts. Where you forget just a little while what goes on beyond its walls.
My current objective is to shift my outlook on life where skepticism and pessimism have become old friends. Logic has locked my unadulterated openness and vulnerability; then threw away the key. This struggle keeps me standing upright rather than a puddle on the floor.
Sadly, that upright form is hollow; simply a shell of who I want to be. I’m always tired, sleepy or yearning for rest. I continuously ask myself, am I subconsciously trying to use sleep as an escape? I like to look at it like time traveling. You wake up 5 hours later with no recollection that time has passed. In the state of REM sleep you have no worry, anxiety or unhappiness. Your mind is suspended in time; whatever you experience during that time usually isn’t even real.
The ability to shut my mind off for a period of time without having to damage it is an amazing power. But with great power comes great responsibility. I get it; because you can’t sleep your life away. Tis why I divvy up the different methods I use to escape reality. (writing being one of them) Some healthy some not so.. but all quite effective.
Reality is just a bunch of things distracting you from reality. Work, school, hobbies, love, relationships, money are all distractions from the inevitable passage of time to keep you from facing your own mortality.
I always say to myself “I speak fluent depression”, a not so funny joke that helps me compartmentalize my feelings toward reality.
This leads me to the second part of this piece where I talk about my outside world rather than my internal one. The desire to escape from the pressure, societal mishaps, devastation and moral calamities is always present. From the look of my news feed, I am already living in the beginnings of a dystopian novel. The Trump administration alone has continually brought the worst and best out of humanity.
Although one always seems to persist over the other and unfortunately it’s not the latter. The world is a tumultuous place where evil and hate runs rampant, but also filled with light. It’s your choice what to focus on.
Trying to balance my inner and outer worlds I would equally like to escape from is a full time career where I have been dubbed chief executive officer; job description: facilitating my own undoing.
Reality is a construct, but so is happiness. We are constantly solving problems only to create new problems out the rubble. The question is, which problems are positive problems and which ones should be eradicated for the greater good?
I often circle back to the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” where Keanu Reeves is an alien sent as a friend of the earth to analyze if it is worth allowing the human species to continue to inhabit the planet. After a brief deliberation and interaction with our species he deduces that, we as a species are parasites killing and destroying the earth as well as ourselves.
In addition, we are too stubborn to change and must be exterminated. His human companion in the movie has tasked herself with the job of convincing him as humans we can change and are worth saving.
I have this battle where I look at humanity as hopeless because we (including myself) are an insolent, selfish, hateful species unworthy of redemption. I put myself in her shoes, and think how would I plead our case to this alien; convincing him of the goodness of humans, the love, passion, perseverance we possess that make us overcome the odds. That we are special and worth a chance at life.
That thought process forces me into the mind set of trying to redeem and live the kind of life I am defending humanity to be. To be the best person I can be and contribute positively to society, helping build, grow and love in all things I do and am.
This ideal forces me to jump head first into reality with the intention to make it a better place rather than retreat to somewhere that isn’t real.