In Which I Contemplate the Disappointing Limitations of Reality

When I was a kid, I had one wish. I wished it on stars, on birthday cake candles, on pennies tossed into a fountain at the mall. Of all the possible and impossible things to want, I wanted to fly. And honestly, I didn’t see what was all that impossible about it.

Faith, trust, and pixie dust; that’s the magic formula, according to some. Well, my pixie dust stash was a little low, but as a child – before I hit my twenties and life finally soured me into a cynic – I had faith to spare. Countless times I hurled myself into the air off of that low bench built into the wall of my old basement, each time sure that this time was the one. This time, I would defy gravity.

Gravity, like the villain it is, was all, “Mwa-hahaha, YOU FOOL!”

By my teen years, I got wise. Flying just was not going to happen for me in this world. Fortunately, there were always other worlds. The one behind the mirror, for instance; the world where my every dream existed as everyday reality. There, I could fly. There, I owned a farm full of puppies, ponies, and tigers. There, whichever cartoon character I was crushing on at the time would adore me and want to hang out and do fun stuff 24/7. It was all there, I knew it was. If only Sarah Maria would move out of my way!

Sarah Maria was my reflection.

Sarah Maria, all grown up and still at her post.

Sarah Maria, all grown up and still at her post.

As one would expect of her, she mirrored my every move. I blinked my right eye, she blinked her left. I raised a hand to touch the mirror’s glass, she reached up as if to give me a high-five. We met palm to palm, she countering my touch with precisely equal pressure. However hard I pressed, so did she. There was no pushing past her. No faking her out and slipping around her all smooth and sneaky-quick. A professional reflection never lets their reverse image through. Sara Maria was just too good. However much I might wish and try and beg, the perfect mirror world was denied me.

Some people like to claim that we control our reality. That it’s our beliefs and attitudes and insistent perceptions that make the rules. That with the right amount of psycho-spiritual clarity, we can do anything. Anything at all. Speaking as she who was once the most blissfully naïve little dreamer there ever was? Yeah, that’d be nice, but no.

Alas for our whims, we are not the Author of this story. We are but his beloved characters. We don’t determine the world’s strictures, we don’t mastermind the plot, we don’t edit out the bits that don’t suit us. We just blunder around – amusingly, tragically, courageously, desperately, even a little impressively, sometimes – trying to find our way to our happiest available ending. For all that the Author has the book all mapped out, we characters are what you call “pansting it”, controlling maybe a little bit more and for sure a whole lot less than we’d like to believe.

With or without pixie dust, our belief can only do so much, in this world.

Thank God for fiction.

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3 thoughts on “In Which I Contemplate the Disappointing Limitations of Reality

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