Buying Your Own Reality

“I’m going to check my emails,” said Larry as he headed to the den to turn on the family computer. He would soon sally forth into the Internet like a crusading knight of old, acquiring wounds that would not easily heal.

His wife Georgia considered retreating upstairs to her sewing room or making a late night run to the store. The problem was she mostly loved her husband, sure there were a lot of things she loved more, but her husband was definitely in the top twenty, maybe even top ten. She took her magazine to the island in the kitchen where she could see her husband, if necessary tonight would be the night.

The usual guttural noises, sighs, and grunts were soon coming from the den. Larry had left his emails and entered the deadly wilds of the Internet comment sections. He was hunched over and angrily typing, brutalizing the poor keyboard. Georgia decided it had to be done and took out her phone and clicked on her app “Reality Subscriptions”. The app promised that a reality specialist would arrive within 20 minutes.

“I am getting really, really annoyed over here,” said Larry.

She mostly loved her husband so Georgia asked the question she already knew the answer to: “Why’s that?”

“People keep telling me I’m wrong!”

“About what?”

“Everything! I’m sick of it, the liberal agenda they are pushing down our throats. Whenever you challenge them on anything they throw all these facts and stupid quotes at you.”

“Just provide facts supporting your positions.”

“I do, but they want “real” facts, whatever the hell that means. I have facts, lots of facts. Climate change is a hoax and minorities are the real problem in this country, I have articles that prove it. The only reason my facts aren’t the right facts is because they disagree with the bleeding heart liberals.”

Georgia decided it was worth a final effort, one last time to broach a taboo subject, before the reality specialist arrived and there was no turning back. “You know…it’s possible you might be wrong about some of these things, like climate change?”

“No. I know the truth and you don’t need a college degree or so-called critical thinking skills to know the truth.”

Larry was a man out of time struggling to make sense of a cosmos that he was not equipped to handle, his wife who mostly loved him pitied him. This was why she had activated the app; as if on cue the doorbell rang.

It was late. Larry angrily rose and once the door was opened wasted no time with pleasantries. “Who the hell are you?

“I’m Brian your rep with Reality Subscriptions. If you’re tired of your political and scientific views being crushed by facts and figures, then we are the service for you. We can help you set up your own reality.”

“Huh?” mumbled Larry.

“Someone activated their Subscription Reality app to call for a reality specialist, right?” asked Brian worriedly.

“That was me, it’s a gift for my husband, Larry, I want to give him his own reality.” There was no turning back at this point, soon her family would be split between three realities, the real world, Georgia’s reality where Hillary Clinton was President of the United States, and whatever reality Larry selected for himself.

“Like an alternate dimension,” asked Larry who had no shortage when it came to imagination, in a lot of ways that was the source of his frustrations.

“No, not a new reality so much as reshaping reality around you.”

Larry paused, taking in the words that didn’t quite make sense to him. “How do you do that?”

“Our process is straightforward,” began Brian handing a pamphlets to Larry. “First you select a reality. We have several popular basic packages to choose from including Justifiably Angry White Man, President Bernie Sanders, The New Confederacy, Black Lives Do Matter, Alien Invasion, and Dystopian Game World. For a nominally higher fee, we have tailored realities that perfectly reflect the specific delusions and false assumptions you desperately cling to.”

“That sounds great, but how does it actually work?”

“We setup your computers and smartphones to access a personalized Internet where you only get the news and articles that support your selected reality. We replace all those people on Facebook and across the ‘real’ Internet who just won’t let you stay ignorant like you want. In your new online reality you interact only with people who will reinforce that reality. With the basic package we send you specially designed newspapers, magazines, and other tangible items so you can actually feel your reality in your hands.”

“This sounds good,” said Larry. “But what about those facts you can’t hide, like you know, Hussein Obama was President for eight years and ruined our country with his radical socialist Muslim agenda.”

“Our upgrade package can give you exactly what you want. We have customers who are functioning in realities where Ronald Reagan married Margaret Thatcher and rule as King and Queen of the Conservative Empire that controls most of the world. We can give you the reality you want right now. With the upgrade package we will automatically rewrite emails sent to you from friends and relatives in this reality to remove anything that might not fit your reality of choice. So don’t worry – we can make it so your daughter isn’t pursuing a liberal arts degree but a business degree like you told her to. Your boss thinks you’re awesome and your mother doesn’t suffer from dementia.”

“That sounds great. What about off the Internet, can you like reprogram my daughter and my wife’s brother who just won’t let up with their facts and figures every time we get together? I’m sick of it!”

“We do have a new Holiday Package. For a modest fee we provide you with actors to replace those relatives you don’t want to deal with. These actors are well-trained to either support your views or present such idiotic arguments that you’ll have no problems countering their points. You will need to sign up early for major holidays, there’s tremendous demand for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

“I’m not sure I like this idea.” Georgia suspected she should have done more research. She hadn’t looked that closely at the upgrades and just relied upon her basic package, President Hillary Clinton: The New Progressive Era.

“It’s up to him if he even wants you in his new reality,” said Brian with a shrug.

Larry narrowed his eyes as his conspiratorial instincts kicked in. “This almost sounds too good to be true. Are there any side effects?”

“Do you want the truth or maybe a more tailored reality?”

“Ah, tailored reality,” said Larry quietly as it was clear he wanted his own reality regardless of the consequences.

“Then absolutely no side effects at all and your total disconnect from reality will promote stronger mental health and confidence. Knowing you’re absolutely right about everything will cause your social relationships to improve and success will come from all directions.”

“I’m sold!”

“What have I done?” muttered an alarmed Georgia.

“Good! Let’s draw up a contract now, don’t worry it’s a perfect contract as everything is in your favor and our prices are affordable for someone in your income bracket. You’re brilliant to have sought out this service.”

“Yes, that’s the type of guy I am – on top of things. I’m glad I got that app thing and activated it.”

“Really?” said an exasperated Georgia.

“It’s his reality,” said Brian pulling out a contract from his briefcase.

Georgia went back to the kitchen. There was emerging in the back of her head a vague idea that maybe a few holidays without her husband wouldn’t be so bad. She could order someone through the Holiday Package who would rather watch a holiday classic like It’s A Wonderful Life instead of football. Heck, she could go all out and sign up for a wife instead of a husband for Christmas. That could be a fun change. She grabbed her phone and figured she better sign up early before they ran out of Holiday Packages.



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The Horace the Horse Sutra

1024px-ManègeLR1We forget many of the influences upon our lives. Some are burned into our minds; usually the ones we’d rather forget. Every now and then a positive truth gets embedded in our memories. I remember back in elementary school listening to a song that totally blew my mind. Horace the Horse was a children’s song we listened to from a record and it changed everything.

Horace the horse on the merry-go-round

Went up and down, round and round

He’s been sad since the day he found

He’s the very last horse on the merry-go-round

The music began and away they go

High and low, to and fro

Poor old Horace would always say

“I’m the very last horse again today.”

How he tried and tried and tried

But he just never could win.

Horace cried and cried and cried

cause all the other horses were ahead of him

Then came the day on the merry-go-round

When Horace turned, looked around

Then said “Gosh oh gee —

I’m the very first horse on the merry-go-round,

The others are following me!”

I was listening to this song, really listening to the words, while sitting on a carpeted floor. My memory is vague on the specifics, though it was evening. There I was listening to this simple children’s song when all of a sudden…Bam! I understood the truth contained within the Horace the Horse Sutra. This was like when a Zen Master thwacks his student with a stick and everything falls into place. The merry-go-round is the real circle of life. We’re all spinning and while it may appear someone is ahead of us, it’s a matter of perspective.

We’ve all been Horace at one point or another. We see someone ‘ahead’ on the merry-go-around who we interpret as being more successful, superior to us in some fashion. We might be taking our cues from society, yet the interpretation is ours, meaning it is something we can change. Follow the example of Horace who changed his perspective and found happiness. Yet beware, for like all powerful truths, the Horace the Horse Sutra can be used for evil.

When I saw Return of the Jedi in the theaters a few years later, Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Bam! Obi-Wan Kenobi had clearly studied the Horace the Horse Sutra. The problem was he was twisting the teaching into an exercise in postmodernism to justify his outright lie to Luke! We live in an age where truth and perspective have become increasingly blurred, it is easy to lose our way like Kenobi. This is something I constantly struggle with. The answer is simple.

Kenobi used perspective to conceal the truth while Horace used perspective to find the truth. Be like Horace. 

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