I am thinking today about the difference between Astroturf and real grass; or the difference between bleach blondes and sun-kissed blondes; or reality vs reality TV. What about the difference between “Mountain Air” scented air freshener and actual mountain air? Waterfalls or fountains, relaxation cds or Oceanside property views, credit extensions or lottery wins.
I am thinking about the differences because I am starting to wonder if we still notice
the gap between each two, or if we miss it.
Our Northern American First World is seemingly prouder of its simulated reality than its actual one. We don’t have the cash but we pretend we’ve got it; we are a society that is dangerously in debt yet deeply in love with our debt and we love to lean upon it. We eat “American Cheese” (made of plastic, FYI). We run on treadmills indoors instead of enduring the weather and the pavement; heaven forbid we feel rain or have to squint to see our way. Or what about love; love’s simulation is the easiest physical distraction – it breaks our hearts, but we call it love anyway.
And then there are matters of logic vs faith vs difference vs fear vs individualistic tendencies. What do we believe? We believe in the comfortable, we believe in being right, we believe in self righteous abandon and overshadowed sinners. Our cars run on fuel but our hearts are empty; our bellies are full but they are rotting with the abscess of over consumption. Our hands stay closed on the items and the things and the stuff that weighs the least in matters of richness and lasting depth and in long-term meaning. Our minds are locked in cages, fearing difference, loving sameness, hating contradiction, loving wealth. We are animals in our own right; animals that feed on the naïve exploitation of the poor; animals that starve in plenty, because we do not recognize that we are in plenty.
We crave the breaking of our hearts, so long as this feeling is enough to convince me that I am alive and worth something. But what we forget is that all the doodads and spinning tires won’t fix us, won’t save us, won’t heal us. They are poorly made, pathetically incompetent bandages for an ache that breeds on false reality and simulated joy.
What then, do we stop? Do we file away our tv shows and plastic cheeses and prestigious rights for being first? Could a country town or village function if the hands of the brilliant were not crushing the mouths of the poor, in order that their idea might sell the most figurines in exchange for the most cash; would we like our own strongness if the strongest feet did not stand first in line while the weaker knees stayed bent, heads down, arms outstretched for anything, for something, for at least one thing that feels like reality (or perhaps, if they were really lucky, like love). Would we know our tops from our bottoms if we were constantly wrong instead of constantly wronging, if we left our houses and made way toward our hearts and our homes and the things that make humanity worth something.
So I am thinking of the differences between the fake and the real,
between the falsities and the truths that make up our days.
I am thinking of the things that make up our nights, of the soul and of the sky and of our endlessly approaching bed times, wondering if maybe we’ve gotten it all wrong. Maybe the best things are the things we think of last – after we turn off our box-shaped companions and shut off our lights and crawl beneath the covers of yet another night – when we are in silence, do we know the difference?