10 February 2013

Hold onto Truth

Humans have an innate skill for fantasy. For some reason, we've been gifted with the ability of weaving stories and making up characters and creating false gods and imagining great quests and inflating our own importance and managing to believe them all. Not all of these are necessarily bad. However, so much time had been spent exploring the many wonders of storytelling by friends - cyber, imaginary, and physical - I would be covering old ground to discuss our fascination with the story.

If I understand these authors correctly, the appeal of the story is that it represents the way things truly are in a fantastic, captivating way. Fairy tales are important not just because they tell us dragons can be beaten, but also because they tell us that dragons exist.

I'm not going to talk about that, though. I'm going to talk about the far less popular subject of reality. You see, while falsehoods can tell truths, it is also possible for a truth to be false.

Trust me, I'm not just saying this to sound zen. There's a point, I swear!

Like I said previously, humans have a capacity for invention, for creation, for loosely-interpreted recounts. We also happen to dwell with other people. When these two facts combine, stuff happens. More specifically, memories change.

I learned recently (can't remember where from, but it was probably from one of the science YouTube channels I watch) that every time we recall a memory, we change it. If we recount the time bearded aunt Matilda tried to kiss us in an exaggerated manner to draw a laugh, the memory is returned to long-term storage with those alterations. Simply by recalling the past, we change it. What you remember is not actually what happened, but the countless interpretations of the original memory meshed into something new.

But that's not all that we change. Ever heard it said that " absence makes the heart grow fonder ?" Of course you have - you do read my blog. Every trope, every type - stereo or arch - is rooted in at least some small amount of reality. So why is it that we consider the absent more kindly than the present?

I have a theory about that. And it all comes back to idealism and the human capacity for it. When we are confronted with a person's reality everyday or every few days, it becomes hard to weave a fantasy around them. In the name of escapism , this fact can become inconvenient. Who wouldn't want to believe a comforting lie more than an uncomfortable truth? But all the same, we cannot hope to illusion ourselves of a different reality when constantly confronted by life-as-it-is.

But when that person is not present, not reminding us of their or our inadequacies, such little fairy tales are easier to believe. Absence makes the heart grow fonder  because every time we remember them, we change our perception of them.

This can even happen within the context of limited contact such as weekly phone calls or daily Facebook updates. There is something magical about physical proximity that disillusions us of any little fantasies. When we read words or hear a voice, we are still free to interpret them according to our preferred paradigm as opposed to the intended context. 

That's why I say the truth can tell a lie. Because somehow, somewhere, someone figured out the power of human recollection.

Now, I'm not just talking about this to amuse myself on a sleepy Sunday evening - though I do find it amusing to blog through a haze of pain killers - I want to make the point I alluded to earlier.

Family, friends, dreamers, mates, and lovers: Let us not decieve ourselves. Let us not slip into the comfort of the false reality and limit ourselves to whims of memory. I want to make an effort to know you as you are, not as how I remember you. I love my idealised version of you, but I love you even more. So let's make an agreement, a covenant, a pact and a solemn pledge.

Let's pledge to never stop loving stories. Let's swear to have a healthy respect for dragons, and let us agree not to settle for the ideal. Because ultimately, the ideal will slip through our fingers like a paper gusted by the wind.

Even as I start my sixth week here, I know there is a long time yet to come. The lurking danger of idealism dogs my every communication, so it is with a sense of urgency that I write now.

I'm on a quest to find ultimate reality, and I'd like you to join me.

Are you in?

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