It may sound a little weird, but one of the greatest struggles about being human is living within reality.
Life is hard. Really hard. And rather than face the harshness of reality, we try to escape it in a myriad of ways. We give ourselves over to addictions. We deny reality and create our own stories. We sink too deep into movies or books, using stories that are a metaphor for reality as an excuse to drift into a dreamland.
The thing that is hard about reality is truth. Truth is an acquired taste. And some of us never really adapt to it. Truths like the fact that we are not in control, that suffering has value, and that we will never be fully satisfied are difficult to accept. So difficult we could spend our entire lives searching for an alternative narrative, trying to escape reality.
How To Avoid Reality
All of our struggles are a result of our inability to understand reality. We don’t comprehend the truth. And so we start to make it up. Quite literally. We start to believe that things have to work this way or that, that we are entitled to an outcome or experience, or that our limited knowledge is the extent of truth. The holes are filled in by our biases and predispositions, by political and even theological upbringing. While these things can also promote reality, it seems humanity is trending in the other direction.
As we drift further and further from reality, truth becomes more and more distant. It can be like a spec on the horizon after years of self-sabotage, addiction, and narcissistic justification.
It’s easy to avoid reality. Just create a new one. And force everything into your new stream. People are suggesting your stream is nonsense? Frame them as enemies of truth, vessels of evil out to destroy the common good. Someone hurt your feelings? Make them out to be a Disney villain, so clearly malicious. You want something good you shouldn’t have? Highlight the reasons this will be good for you and stuff the negative consequences in pursuing it. Cast yourself as the victim. Blame your circumstances when things go awry (better yet, pretend at humility and control, as if you foresaw all these troubles and can handle it with ease).
Avoiding truth has become a plague in our world. It has clouded the way we view social issues like poverty, race, and gender. It has diluted the way we think about ourselves and our relationships. We are drifting further and further from reality.
The result is that we feel lost and alone. Our narratives aren’t working. We are afraid reality will disappoint us only to find the false-narratives we accept are even worse. Suicide rates, terrorism, mental illness. It is all a consequence of our false narratives.
The cure is simple, if difficult. The cure is to commit to pursuing truth. To get our feet back on the ground. To be willing to search for and find the truth no matter what it costs us, how much it disappoints or confuses. To follow where it leads rather than our predisposed understanding of what will end in peace and joy. Living in reality is hard. But it is the only way to discover justice, harmony, and peace. First within ourselves and then in the world at large.