Thursday, June 9, 2011

Illusions

A few evenings ago I turned on the television to watch Homeless to Harvard while attempting to make some headway through one of the required readings for my upcoming MFA seminars. It wasn't the first time I'd seen the movie and for some reason I'm more productive when there's something else going on in the background. It's one of those made for TV movies that are based on a "true story." It’s a story about this young girl who overcomes a childhood and background filled with despair, disease, dysfunction and adversity. She decides she's going to make a better life for herself no matter how much she has to push her own spirit.

It got me thinking about what makes some of us persist while the rest choose to accept less than what we are worth. Where does the drive to be something other than what we currently are come from? You look at some people who have made something out of their lives and there's nothing too adverse about their backgrounds to motivate them towards greatness. It may be because they don't tell the truth; the entire picture of their lives. Their former circumstances may become rearranged into a more presentable picture so that there aren't any uncomfortable questions or an end to the game of pretend.

Because I think that adversity is that "thing" that drives us. We can create illusions about ourselves and our environments, but the believability of those illusions rarely lasts for entire lifetimes. I think we spend the majority of our lives always looking for a new one. An illusion is something to hold onto; some idea to believe in. It's something that says there's more to what we see. There are the ideas of hope, faith, and love. Are they too illusions? Or are they something more? Can they last? Are they real? Sometimes it's questionable. You don't have to have had a rough childhood or a series of setbacks to understand those concepts.

Sometimes you wonder what you're doing with your life. It doesn't seem to matter that you're treading water because it keeps coming at you. And there's so much of it so you can't see anything else-or know anything else. And you're alone. There's no one in sight to help or comfort you. There's no answer.

Someone like me spends an entire lifetime trying to become someone they're not, because at least the illusion has tangibility. It has boundaries; an identity. But what happens when those boundaries start to constrict and suffocate what we feel? What happens when that illusion starts to become more of a fishbowl than a spiritual lifeline?

What happens when we're not really sure who we are or if we "fit" into a place that feels safe, neat and comfortable? I suppose some of us are more vulnerable to this "tragic state" than others. Astrology would say that those born under "dual" signs such as Libra and Gemini feel this way because they're really two people. We feel like Buddy the Elf after he goes to New York to meet his biological father because we've got two separate identities.

One of those identities pulls us in one direction while the other is screaming "no, go backwards." It becomes difficult to achieve "something" because you're diverse enough to want a piece of "everything." The illusions that we hold onto sometimes change. Sometimes we put them into boxes inside our hearts and our psyches and we leave them there. Sometimes we revisit them to remind ourselves of something that we used to know and that we need to relearn in order to move forward. Sometimes they become so ingrained in our personalities that we become just like them; a reflection of what we once garnered inspiration from.

Then there are those that invisibly hold our hands the entire time that we exist. They never leave even though at times we may want them to. Full of shadows or light, they shape who we think we can be. But underneath all of that we are all really just nothing. Not anything in the sense of unimportant but in the sense that we are just a series of breaths that doesn't seem to make sense or have any particular meaning.

Definition becomes an escape; a crutch; an excuse to avoid facing that we are indefinable. Our journey is whatever we wish it to be. A series of roads that are parallel and yet each one represents a different color; a different possibility. Each one its own illusion that makes us feel less afraid.

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