Sunday, March 25, 2007

dream and reality

I'm seeing a lot of commercials these days from various States advertising themselves as vacation spots. You've may have seen the same ones. The scenes with mountain climbers. The golf courses. The required "fun in the water" scenes.

Which is all fine and good when the scene is elsewhere. I mean, when you're living in Nebraska and its January and the temperature is below freezing, a trip to Arizona seems quite nice. Or North Carolina. Or Florida.

But then you see the vacation spots from the places you actually live. Seeing ads for Nebraska or South Dakota or North Dakota, I just find myself with a "yeah, right" response. You know, like the sarcastic "yeah, right, THAT'S what it's like to live here!" The idyllic vision of life confronts the pointedly less idyllic reality of life.

There is so much illusion around us. Illusions about marriage. Illusions about sex. Illusions about romance. Illusions about politics.

Part of what is striking about these illusions, I find, is the promise of easy happiness, that all your problems will melt away into some sort of Disney movie ending if only you can find that perfect mate, that ideal drug, that ideal drink, that ideal vacation spot.

How often do I meet with teenage girls from unfortunate backgrounds seeking happiness through a boyfriend? Or a young man seeking happiness from some unhealthy substance or another? How often do I see people coming to me with their disillusionments, getting what they thought they wanted yet facing the more complex realities of, say, romance, marriage, occupation, or life in general?

We so eagerly seek out the illusion.

Of course, the illusions sell us a bill of goods, don't they? This notion of easy happiness, I mean. Far more difficult, perhaps, to look within, to build our own capacity to bring joy to others. Far more demanding to ask ourselves to grow, to develop -- to face life directly for what it is and to find and grow the goodness within it.

It is so much simpler to look for a relationship than to grow in compassion, so much less demanding to use a drug than to acknowledge our selfishness, so much easier to get a job than to expand our ability to really understand people deeply.

I long for a society with different priorities, with different messages for our children.

1 comment:

Magdalene6127 said...

I agree, Steve, that the desire to replace real experiences with illusion is troubling. When my kids were younger we took some vacations to Disney World-- which I love!-- and I remember sitting in "Mexico" at an "outdoor" cantina by an Aztec pyramid, and loving it.... and being troubled by it at the same time. It was the illusion of Mexico, not the real thing. It was air-conditioned Mexico! It was 3-d illusion Mexico! I loved it and worried about myself for loving it.

In churches, too, I think people long for illusion over reality. This is why, IMHO, so many love the fundamentalist approach to scripture and morality-- this creates an illusion that the world is a black-and-white place with black-and-white answers, and the truth is, there are shades of gray not to mention the entire rainbow of reality out there! God is not something that can be reduced to the contents of even a great and holy book. That God is an illusion.

Peace, Steve. You always make me think!