Last month I went to the annual Marine Raider Reunion (my father was a Raider in WW2, check out his site here) in Wilmington North Carolina. Needless to say the climate and culture is quite different back there when compared to good old Parker, AZ. When I’m in different places I like to learn new things if I can, and learn something new I did.
I learned that according to several people in North Carolina, people who live in Arizona’s desert heat don’t sweat.
No, really, that’s what they said to me. Not just once either but different people at different times. Amazing.
Of course I informed them that – surprise! – we actually do sweat out here. What a shock to think that people in 120 degree temperatures would sweat! But there is a big difference in what happens to that sweat. In humid climates it just stays on your skin like a covering of slime. Out here it evaporates quickly so that you can dehydrate without knowing it if you aren’t careful.
I came home and got back into things here and heard this news story: A couple in southern Arizona left their two year-old child at home alone for over an hour so they could go out and play Pokémon Go. That’s simply incredible news. If you are so wrapped up in some imaginary world or game that you leave your very real child home alone, who wanders outside and becomes dangerously overheated, you’ve got a serious problem. The parents can now ponder this as they face charges; perhaps that will help focus their minds.
But these two stories have one thing in common (aside from both being true). They both illustrate just how difficult it is for people to develop and maintain a firm grasp on reality.
There’s no denying this is true. We talk a lot about people being in “denial.” But the truth is that all of us are in that imaginary state quite often. Probably more often than we either know or are willing to admit.
This is all very strange isn’t it? After all, since reality is real and everything else isn’t, shouldn’t it be easy to tell the difference? Furthermore, shouldn’t people desire what’s real over an illusion? You’d think so wouldn’t you? But it’s not true. Most of us cling with gusto to certain illusions in our lives. Sometimes they are about ourselves and at other times they are about people, places or things. Yet, either way, human beings have a pronounced preference for illusion over reality much of the time.
There’s a simple reason for much, if not all, of this. Reality is often painful. It doesn’t conform to what we think ought to be, it just exists as it is. Reality doesn’t care that I think my child should be a great artist or doctor or lawyer. Reality doesn’t care if I think I’m an incredible vocalist and that the world needs my talent.
Remember those opening weeks of American Idol where people laughed their heads off at all those no talent people? People who’d either never been told the truth about their inability to sing or just refused to believe it? People who, just like you and me, preferred their illusions to an ugly reality. The only difference between us is that they made the colossal mistake of being confronted with the truth on national TV. Much of this is now available on YouTube for those of you who enjoy laughing at others failures and humiliation too.
So, while reality often sucks (and it often does), it’s still something we have to accept, confront and cope with in our lives. We don’t have to like it, but we do have to deal with it. You can’t drink, smoke, snort, or Pokémon it away either.
To live a meaningful life starts with accepting what’s real and then dealing with it as you push ahead. Reality can and should be changed sometimes. But it won’t be until we first accept it and then keep a firm grasp on it as we go through our one and only life.
That’s why we’ve got to get real and stay real. For more thoughts on this from a Biblical perspective you might want to check out my book, “Getting Real,” available online.
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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.