Friday, November 19, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

Perception is a mighty super-hero.  Perception wears a cape, has laser vision, super-strength, the ability to change shape and be invisible.  Perception can fly.  Perception wears spandex well and is charming enough to get away with being kinda jerky at times. Perception shakes babies and kisses hands and signs autographs for swooning, pimply faced fans of all ages.  Perception brings home the bacon, does her own taxes, sets tables like Martha Stewart, cooks like Alton Brown, cleans like a Merry Maid and does it all with Donna Reed style, by which I obviously mean in pearls, heels and perfectly straight stockings, probably with a frilly little apron she made herself.

Reality is a frumpy accountant.  In a suit.  With an attach√© case and loafers.

As far as showdowns go, it's easy to see this one isn't really even a fair fight.  It's not an exciting duel between equals.  It's a merciless slaughter.  No epic battle to the death, just a swift death with no pomp or circumstance, no weeping maidens, no brave men enduring with stoic dignity.  No ticker tape parade for the victor.  Not even a congratulatory handshake from a grateful public official. 

See, it goes like this:

You're 5 years old.  It's the day after Thanksgiving.  Mom takes you Christmas shopping, but Christmas is so far away!  Eons away!  An eternity away!  You might just die before it even gets here.  You can't even count the days it's so far.  You do arts & crafts to make gifts for your parents, siblings & grandparents and hope and wish for the days to go faster.

Fast forward 25 years.  It's a week before Thanksgiving.  You can't remember where your November went.  You're scrounging the shelves for a recipe for green bean casserole to bring to the family dinner, trying to figure out when you'll have time to go to the store and cook the thing before the day arrives.  You've got a few gifts on the shelves that you've picked up here & there, but your shopping list is at least half as long as Santa's and you've got to figure out appropriate gifts for co-workers and friends and family and in-laws.  You look at the calendar and can't imagine how you'll ever get it done because Christmas is right around the corner.  Christmas will be here before you know it.  Christmas is breathing down your neck, eyeballing you in your sleep and taunting you with the lightning-quick speed with which it approaches.

And yet, here's the truth.  The days are the same.  The earth turns at the same speed (roughly... I'm sure there's some entropy somewhere on a teensy-tiny scale that brains like mine can't even comprehend) and the calendar hasn't changed.  The stores put decorations out sooner, but the essence of time hasn't changed. 

For all the grandeur and might of Perception, Reality wins in the blink of an eye...

I refuse to acknowledge that victory, because I'm stubborn and pretty sure that someday the tables will change when I learn how to influence matter and time and physics and the molecules of the universe with my brain waves.

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