Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reality bites

….He lay curled up, hands clasped between his bent legs, unkempt hair spilling over a face aged and craggy from abuse, neglect and denial. The morning was chill, enough to make me shiver, as cocooned in the warmth of my warm car, I cringed as I thought how cold the pavement must feel beneath him.

… She was tiny, A hat was pulled tight around the greying coarse hair which framed her wrinkled face, clad in baggy jeans that pooled around her narrow waist and fell in folds around her legs. She moved furtively, a hat pulled down tight, eyes flickering and nervous, creeping down the moving escalator like a little mouse trying to escape the notice of a hungry cat.

… Moving confidently, cell pressed to his ear, suit pressed, sharp, fitting perfectly he strides through the mall like a prince, words staccato and loud, inviting attention and approbation for his person

People … varied, unique, convoluted and every single one different. We don’t see the stories behind the face they show to the world and while sometimes their stories are etched into the reality of their bodies and the worn realities of skin and health, that is only part of their tale.

The homeless man, one of many I see frequently stretched out on pavement around St. Michael’s Hospital – what is his story? I often think to myself; he was a child once, with innocent eyes and wonder waiting to be born, with a future unimagined and endless possibilities yet to be realized. Did he have a mother who looked at his little face with its unlined skin and fresh, questioning eyes and think how much she adored him? Did he have siblings who cuddled and fought and slept in warm puppy piles when winter nights drew close and the cold he now courted as his paramour was then an enemy?

What happened to that man? Was it bred in the bone that he would find the pavement of an uncaring city his home? Was it neglect or abuse or did he somehow lose his way during the tumultuous pubescent years and not find the inner strength to fight his way back?

The small, frail Asian woman with her ill-fitting clothes, clean and pressed, her furtive, frightened air, skittering down the escalator as I walked up with my morning coffee. Her limbs were so tiny, her small frame reminiscent of a frail child, her face so full of character that it entranced me and made my imagination soar. Did she begin her life in a small village, surrounded by rice paddies and a village that followed the cycle of sun and season? Was her birth greeted with regret because she was female and therefore less than? Her hands were strong and worn and capable I noted as we passed and her body, though frail, radiated a lean strength and I could tell in our fleeting encounter that she was no stranger to hard work.

I wondered what she thought of this country. Whether the customs and practices were alienating and perplexing… whether she had children and grandchildren and if so, if she retained her cultural imperatives or had time and proximity opened her eyes to different possibilities.

And the boy, striding purposefully through the mall, a young knight, arrogant and self important – it would be easy to revile him for his brash self confidence and gift him with a privileged childhood and a spoiled young adulthood. But I had been there once – a young professional with a confident air and an arrogant face and yet behind the eyes, where my soul lived, the realities were vastly different. The struggle with self-esteem, the self-questioning, the critical flagellation of my talent were not apparent in my guise yet were real nonetheless.

And as I peruse the cyber world, the same dichotomy emerges, clothed about with words and pretence, painted liberally with fantasy and desire, the unfolding journeys range from the absurd to the sublime and yet others resonate with me, and carry with them the realities of time and demand, of mood and emotion and in their stories I find validation and understanding.

Words can betray us to those who peruse them; for even when we couch our stories in humour and insouciance, our realities can bleed through onto the virtual page and the pain leach into the hearts of our readers.

Time is the great leveller I believe.

For while I do not believe we can truly “know” another simply through what they choose to share, personalities and reactions do over time provide a framework in which to understand at least facets of the writer. The subject matter of our thoughts, the perspectives, the things that enflame, the quirks that attract – all combine to create a structure in which we gain some insight into the person behind the words.

I think this is why – like swan in her blog here and Morningstar in her blog here illustrate beautifully and from the perspective of REALITY, the impossibility of being experts when it is indeed fantasy and a rich imagination that fuels the tales. I find an absurdity coloured with anger for those who purport experience when all that fuels their passion is desire and fantasy.

People are credulous.

People want to believe.

Those entering any unknown realm are uncertain, nervous, eager to learn, passionate in their newfound arena of exploration. They are willing to suspend belief and in the way of people everywhere, quick to see in themselves, ignorance and a lack of knowledge as negatives and failures.

It is the nature of the human beast, I think, except for a very few, to harbour doubts about their abilities and inner convictions and it is immoral for the poseurs and the fakes to capitalize on their uncertainty.

Of course in the end, to my mind, it is all about practicalities. I know that fairly quickly, my credulousness disappeared as the pure impossibility of ANYONE having the kind of time, opportunity and desire that I saw in many of these stories simply defied logic. Short of fiction, the myriad realities of demands on ALL of us – from children to jobs to health issues to mood are inevitable and inescapable.

So tell your tales and like a donkey, bray your “experiences”, but one can only hope that readers can ingest the absurdities and impossibilities together with the fantasy.


Anonymous said...

i've had similar experiences people-watching from a coffee klatch table in college, looking up every once in a while from my writing to gaze at the myriad of folks coming in for their caffeine fix, wondering about their life-story, guessing at it through just one look at their face...publishers must be beating down your door, you have a very vibrant way with words

PrettyGirl said...

As always, very eloquently said. My inner Don Quixote want to fight the windmills erected by the pretenders, but they are legion. Men and women and they populate this world, poseurs using marketing, titillation and anonymity for self-aggrandizement.

I lament those who who do not know the emperor has no clothes. I only hope that eventually their search leads them to better understand the full picture. Pretty

M:e said...

I think there are two strands to perception. One is in what we are portrayed, and another is in what we ourselves are prepared to see. Whether in the real or the cyber world, I think we have to be aware of both if we wish to see the real person.

love and hugs xxx

Loving Annie said...

Being deceived is almost always very hurtful.

Something like this happenned a few years back with a woman named Patty and her spanking blog.

She pretended her present day-to-day experiences with her husband and family were real - she was an eloquent and gifted writer - and it was all a lie that someone finally blew the whistle on.
She had a HUGE following, and it created an enormous outpouring of disillusionment and disappointment and lack of trust towards her in the spanking blog world.

It is MUCH better to be honest, both in our blogs and in daily life.

Being discerning is also useful.

In college, my boyfriend and I had sex twice every morning and twice every night the first year we were together.

That hasn't been repeated since - by anyone I've been with.

So when I read a blog where the people involved sound like non-stop erotic bunny rabbits - and they are no longer in their 20's, I tend to disbelieve it.

Or for that matter, anone or anything who always paints a blissful and uninterrupted happy picture of life without any hiccups or bumps in the road.

Liras said...

Sea Nymph, people need to be ruthlessly honest with themselves, about their needs and desires, before they can tell the truth to others.

It takes courage, something that is sadly, in short supply.

Anonymous said...

I write about my reality, it is my truth even if it seems a lie to you. I think as readers sometimes we forget that what we take is ours and we own it. It may or may not have anything to do with what was written by the author and what they meant.

That being said when I read your work I am always left with the desire to make sure I speak from the heart. Also with the intense desire to be a better writer.

selkie said...

eternal- I never get bored watching people and one of the things I really love is trying to match people with their partners ... as in an airport, train station or bus depot. and thank you for your kind words about my writing.

Pretty Girl, well said! Like you, sometimes passion moves me to tilt at those windmills and other times, the pointlessness of it defeats me.

M:e - thank you, you're right of course as usual - sometimes we have to question our own perceptions and realize it has its own prejudices and prejudgments.

Annie- sighs at your college days - I REMEMBER times like that! and yes, that is exaclty one of the things that drives me nuts - these people that seem to have sex constantly each and every day! Come ON guys - there is only so much time in a 24 hour period! LOL

I've known people like the person you describe; they can hurt those who believed in them very much, not just because of the deceit but the deceived person then begins to doubt their ability to have a balanced judgment and that the cut is the worst of all I think.

selkie said...

my comment form was acting up so to continue ...

Liras, unfortunatley you are right and sometimes the people they are deceiving the most are themselves.

SirJ. - you are a sterling example of the type of person I admire- like swan, like morninginstar and many other of my cyber friends. Your innate honesty, your generousity in sharing your REAL life experiences and the knowledge and wisdom you gain and share with us are very much appreciated by your readers!

The positive thing is that despite the poseurs, there are as many whose sincereity is evident and welcome.

Anonymous said...

Selkie, you know me better than any of the other bloggers from what we have shared.

A friend of mind said a few years ago that his theory is that everyone is fucked up, unless they can prove it differently.

This blog stuff is a place you can share hurt, dreams, frustrations, fantesies and general stuff.

Unlike Annie, I take most everything that is written on here with a grain of salt. I don't believe you ever get total honesty in any relationship. I'm also pretty cynical (comes my journalism and pr days I guess) and, for the most part, people usually wear a mask. They are never fully who they portray themselves to be.

So how am I portraying myself? I'm hipper on here than I really am, I don't cuss as much as I do on here, I'm 30 pounds overweight and I have more crowns in my mouth than Buckingham Palace.

Other than that, I'm everyone's favorite uncle who says the most inappropriate things but always gets a laugh (among people who have a sense of humor and a dirty mind).

Amber said...

Well, crappola. I left a comment here yesterday but damned if I see it now. Stupid Blogspot...grrr.

Anyway, I said something about how I just can't stand it when someone deliberately promotes lies about themselves.

The ones who deliberately portray themselves as something they are not; experts in a field they know little about, married when they are not, or visa-versa, passing off outright fiction as 100 percent truth...can't stand that.

I mean, if people want to create a fantasy life online, I don't really care. Just don't bleed your fantasy onto my reality. The times when I've been given advice about my honest to god real life issues by someone pretending my situation matches their fantasy one, omg, that's the part that really sets me off.