We all live within the harsh confines of the cage of reality, the bars of which are the unbreakable laws of physics. And even within that cage, we are tightly shackled by our daily lives and by unconscious acceptance of what we have always been told is and therefore must always be. Few realize that the cage has a door, and the key to that door lies within the mind. Reality imprisons the body, but it cannot restrain the mind.
I've been aware of this fact all my life and, as a result, Reality and I have developed a most unusual relationship. I am not so foolish or delusional as to deny Reality's existence; I simply—and quite honestly—choose to ignore it whenever possible, which, fortunately, not having the tethers of job or family, is most of the time. I've always found life much easier to get through when I don't have to burden myself with facing Reality head on.
Reality, for example, says I am 79 years old. I blithely refuse to accept it. Even when Reality puts a reflective surface in my line of vision in an effort to show me who's really in control, I'm able to simply reject the image as being of some wizened old man I've never seen before and would be happy never to see again. He resembles nothing so much as a dried apple-core carving of a human, and I cannot relate to him in any way. So I don't.
I am able, despite Reality's strong evidence to the contrary, to still believe in the basic goodness of people. I believe in honor and grace and beauty. I believe in happily-ever-after and miracles and bravery and nobility. I automatically assume that every man I find attractive is homosexual. Even when he is with a woman, I know it's his sister or good friend and that he has an equally good-looking male partner waiting at home. If he is with another good looking man, they are partners. This was evinced this morning at coffee with my friend Gary. A truly beautiful young man...tall, dark curly hair...came in towing a large wheeled suitcase. He had, my mind told me, just flown in to O'Hare, had taken the CTA Blue Line to Logan Square and transferred to the eastbound #76 bus, getting off at the Brown Line Diversey station next to the coffee shop. He ordered coffee and left, Gary calling my attention to the fact that another extremely handsome man had just pulled up and gotten out of his car to meet the beautiful traveler. Gary assumed the other man was the traveler's father, but he was much too young...almost the same age as the traveler. They were, of course, partners, and the coffee shop was a convenient halfway point for them to meet. They didn't hug or kiss, but I knew that would come later. They got in the car and drove away. They were holding hands, I'm sure.
Were they partners? Were they even gay? They were and are in my mind and heart, so what difference did it make if Reality said otherwise? I wanted them to be together, and in love, and happy, and so they were and are.
Far too many people ever even dare to think outside Reality's cage. Had they been in the coffee shop they—like Gary—would have seen nothing more than a nice looking young man with a suitcase, ordering coffee and then going outside to meet someone and driving off. Period. End of story. Or, rather, no story.
Life is so filled with wonderful, delightful, fun, positive stories which need no basis in reality to provide pleasure and warmth in a world too-often bleak or dull. The trick is to see beyond the bars of the cage.
If it pleases you to believe something—no matter how unrealistic it may appear to others—and it harms no one, by all means, believe it with all your heart. We make so much of the sorrow we experience in the course of our lives; surely we are allowed to create a little happiness.
Remember the end of Peter Pan, where Tinkerbelle is dying because she believes no one believes in her? Well, as Peter says, “Clap if you believe.” I do.