Saturday, January 24, 2009

Eyes Wide Open

“Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.” Mark Twain

Long ago I put that quotation in my “jot-it-down-while-you-read” journal. It rang true. It no longer does. Dreams (with a heavy dose of reality), goals and wonderful plans for the future – yes. But no more illusions.

Some of the illusions I’ve held?

That my marriage was a good one. (This was a biggie and its demise incorporated others - i.e. the loss of what I once considered friends.)

That my writer’s block was temporary and would end any day. (It hasn’t and I’m going to stop beating myself up about it. I have moved on.)

That I was coping and adapting well to caring for our ailing dog. (I wasn’t – hence my weight loss.)

That out of a desire (need?) to believe such wonderful and perfect (!) people exist I have imbued others with qualities and attributes they do not possess. I set them up for failure and myself for disappointment – sad, avoidable consequences of my own making. (Ouch.)

I seem to have a knack for twisting reality to fit my needs and wants. I suspect we all do this to some extent but I’m now in the process of removing my own personal blinders. I need the glare – the light of day.

I am also guilty of having an active imagination, a tendency to take off on flights of fancy and of indulging in wonderful (day)dreams. These flaws or gifts (depends on how you view them) are not going to go away. But I am determined to temper them with a more discerning view of the world.

While the stripping away of illusions can be painful, there’s relief and a refreshing sense of freedom to be found in facing reality and the truth – about myself and about others.

I haven’t become cynical and jaded – simply more aware and cautious.

And I think those are good things to be. At the very least, they are what I need to be right now.

And Mr. Twain? I am still very much alive.


msb said...

I believe that you have always "seen" more than you give yourself credit for. Now your eyes are just a little more open. We will continue to have our dreams and that is good. There is nothing wrong with being cautious (protecting yourself) but as "someone" once told me - keep searching for the illusive dream of happiness. We can't give up.
A comment from one of those wonderful and "perfect" people you referred to - this one will try to never disappoint you.

sherry said...

"simply more aware and cautious" -- yes, this is a good way to be. But it's more than that and never be so cautious as to stop enjoying, stop appreciating things for what they are in "the moment".

Growth and learning, desiring change and welcoming it when it arrives and not slamming the door in it's face...evolution.

I live in expectation...I expect that people will do what they will always do, always have done...but I also expect that I may be pleasantly surprised when they allow change in their own lives.

I think you are coming to be what I love to call "fierce in your own reality" (it's part of a quote from Florida Pier Scott-Maxwell

Beth said...

I like that you are aware and more cautious....we should all be that way. and there's nothing wrong with day dreams...sometimes they are what gets you through the day...or night.

Gladys said...

To loosely quote Byron Katie "There is no illusions only our perceptions. If you change the way you think you change your life."

It is a very hard lesson to learn to seek the truth in what we believe. Ask yourself "Is it true?" "Is it REALLY true?" Then "Who would I be without that thought?" Finally turn your thought around. It is the most liberating in the world when you get rid of your perception of things and look at it for what it is. I believe that some call it "owning" it.

Now the other thing I'll be lecturing on...Talking on cell phones in the toilet.

She said...
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The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Wow, it's often hard to be that kind of honest with yourself. But, to try to temper all that, it sounds like you have been through an awful lot of late, including a lot of loss. Grief is a natural process if you let it run. Try not to be any harder on yourself than you already have been. One day (maybe not today) things will turn around, maybe slowly or maybe abruptly and you will then be able to look back on this time as a period you survived, made you stronger and helped you learn more about yourself than you were in the bargain for.

Beth said...

You never could...

"Fierce in your own reality." I love that. Such a good fit.

I (we) can't give up the dreaming! (May all yours come true.)

I'm going to use that, "Who would I be without this thought?" and add to it, "And how would I feel without that thought/belief?"
Don't need the lecture on cell phones & toilets!

Be wary of that illusion that I "see people clearly." I don't! Trying to, though.

the bodhi chicklet:
Wise words - thank you.
And I've already become stronger. That's the gift being honest brings you.

Dick said...

Circumspection and objectivity are gifts of age. Your picture suggests that there's a fair span of years between us, Beth, so if they're coming early, you're empowered!

oreneta said...

Sounds like wisdom to me.....

Good luck with it all, we're thinking of you....It can't be easy though.

Beth said...

I'm actually coming a bit late to this sense of empowerment. With three sons in their twenties, I am no spring chicken!

I got a little personal with this post (more so than usual). Hope the wisdom sticks.

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh . . . I had to read that passage a couple of times about believing some people to be perfect, because it sums up exactly the recent loss of a friendship. Ouch is right . . . it was my unrealistic expectations that set it up for failure and I have no one to blame but myself.

I would have to add the word 'tired' to 'aware and cautious' - because being human is exhausting.

Some real words of wisdom here Beth, thanks.

Beth said...

It hurts to lose a friendship - even more so when we realize much of the fault lies within ourselves.
Exhausting? At times, very much so.

Lainey-Paney said...

I agree that sometimes we see what we want to see, as opposed to "true colors", reality, etc.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This is some seriously wise stuff. What a beautiful and brave look you've taken, and shared.

JR's Thumbprints said...

You got that right - there's no such thing as wonderful people. We all have our moments. Especially me.

Bee said...

This post made me think of many things -- one being a conversation that I had with a good friend this morning. At 43, she still believes that her mother will (someday) give her the love/attention/positive feedback/childcare help that she wants and needs. Sadly, all previous experience suggests that this is an illusion that she needs to let go of. But if she does accept that it is an illusion, she has to deal with a hard truth that she doesn't want to believe. What I'm trying to say is: you describe these things so simply and eloquently, but they are hard hard hard to enact.

Beth said...

Guilty - and still learning.

Perhaps not so brave - more out of necessity. And it has helped.

In other words, we're all human.

Yes, it's hard but I'm finding that learning to deal with and accept the "hard truth" is making things easier and simpler for me. Turns out, hanging on to those illusions was awfully hard work, too.

Bee said...

Yes, that is pretty much the advice that I gave her. After all, she gets hurt over and over again.

Patti said...

Beautiful. (If you write like this, how can you be blocked?)

Beth said...

Thank you.
Apparently I can handle the length of a blog post. A story or an article? Many, many enthusiastic starts but no endings. Not sure why. I'm just putting it aside for now. Perhaps some day??

Memarie Lane said...

My mom is one who live in her own bubble of illusion. The world as she sees it is not the world at all. She's happy, but she's also completely dependent on others to guide her through the real world so she doesn't have to leave her bubble. If my dad passes before she does I honestly don't know how she will survive.

patricia said...

The cold hard truth is a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes its gotta be done. But nothing wrong with having a chaser of dreams and fantasies to go with it! So don't stop day dreaming, girl!

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