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Monday, April 27, 2015

WHY REALITY ROCKS!

A few years ago, two of my very best friends in the world came for a “sleepover date” for my birthday.  Now, the fact that we are all in our 40’s should not discourage you; we can stay up too late doing silly and meaningless things with the most misdirected teenagers!  We indulged in the usual overeating and YouTube saturation…after which we moved on to the endless hilarity of what we later termed Reality Rocks.  Have you ever been in a cutesy gift shop that sells rocks (or stones) of various sizes with inspirational sayings on them?  Believe”… “Dream”… “Hope” … “Faith”…you know you’ve seen them.  Well, we decided there was an untapped market for rocks (or stones) with slightly more realistic advice:  Deny” … “Wallow” … “Covet” … “Retaliate”.  We literally spent hours coming up with these, writing them on some river rocks I inexplicably had lying around the house and laughing to kill ourselves.   We felt there was a desperate retail need for REALITY rocks.

Reality gets a bad rap because it is full of all sorts of unsavory things like betrayal, embarrassment, disappointment, death and taxes.  We tend to think in extremely negative terms about reality, reserving our believe-dream-hope-faith experiences for special occasions or as pie-in-the-sky aspirations.  But reality is much more well-rounded than that; also more ambiguous.  We can have an absolutely shitty day that turns into our most entertaining story EVER and we can have a long wished for dream-come-true that leaves us feeling flat.   Reality never looks like a Pottery Barn catalogue—it is messy, lived in, cluttered and riotous.  Reality is also the most flexible commodity on the planet…it shifts and changes as you do.  Be careful what you wish for and even more so what you believe.
“Believe” on the other hand, gets much more credit as a good thing than it deserves!  Believe as an inspirational catchphrase is quite suspect, because I know an awful lot of people who believe really horrible things…most of which I have never experienced evidence of in my “reality”.  From self-doubting beliefs to fear-based world views, these beliefs drive behaviors that make them come true.  What you believe determines much of what you do, and what you do creates your life experiences.  Like the hypochondriac who actually contracts that weird, rare disease they feared, our beliefs work like a magic wand attracting evidence of what we think is true.  Our belief in our own inadequacy can keep us from achieving our dreams; our beliefs about the inadequacy of others can deprive us of community and intimacy.  Belief is a double edged sword and you must always be aware of how you are wielding it.

Reality knows no absolutes.  Nothing is definitively good or bad, no rule is so exacting that there are no exceptions, no truth is so profound that it doesn’t contain the essence of some banal lie.  Reality is our clay, to be molded and formed to our satisfaction…when that clay solidifies, we can name it good or we can wet it down and start all over again.  Reality has the potential for endless reinvention because it is never done, never over.  You can try on as many hats as you like in your relationships, your career and your emotions.  You can fail, you can succeed, you can grow, you can contract and reality will just go with your flow and keep on keepin’ on.  “Change your mind, change your life” is not just motivational jargon—it is an invitation to try on as many “realities” as you can imagine.
Life is wonderful when you are in the mood to believe, dream, hope and have faith, but life can also be a great deal of fun when you make your mind up to deny, wallow, covet and retaliate.  There is a duality that exists that must be given its due:  you cannot have light without dark.  And if you are not capable of coveting something, for example, chances are pretty good you cannot attain it, either.   Reality gives us the greatest gift of all…an understanding that imperfection is the norm, and we are officially off the hook.  When we give up on the empty ideals of the Pottery-Barn-catalogue, we begin to forgive ourselves for not meeting the standard that only existed in our heads anyway.  Self-trust begins to overtake self-doubt in that lifelong race as we no longer need to be perfect, we only need to be real.  Really hopeful, really screwed up, really capable, really unsure of what comes next…but also really sure that whatever it is, we are up for it.  Because Reality Rocks!  And so do we.

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