Thanks to the new listener who took the time to email me to ask what I said about reality a couple of weeks ago. The comment landed right after "National Anthem" by The Gaslight Anthem (who I really like, by the way). What I said was that it's good to be disillusioned because that means that illusions have been challenged and destroyed so that we can deal with reality. The catch is that we like our illusions sometimes. I like thinking that I could have played Major League Baseball if I'd really wanted to, but since I didn't really try very hard we'll never know. It's an illusion every bit as real as others that we get addicted to: "I know he loves me deep down," "I could date the thong-of-the-day if she lived close to me," "I'm the smartest person in the room," "Everything happens for a reason," "It won't happen to me" (note that this last one could either be something you want or not!), or "You can be anything you want to be."
Actually, you can't be anything you want to be and you should be glad of it, too. Can you imagine having that many choices to deal with? If we didn't suck at some things, then it'd be so much harder to find the things that we're actually great at. Besides that, the truth is that I neither play guitar well enough to hang with Metallica, nor did I ever hit well enough to stand out on my high school baseball team. Knowing the truth about ourselves gives us something real to stand on and base our decisions on, instead of the fairy tales that are tempting to want but hardly real. That doesn't mean that our illusions are bad or unnecessary, just that we are always better off telling ourselves the truth or at least asking what's real. I guess it's best to know the truth--demand that your doctor tell you what's really wrong with you so you can get about the business of healing; demand your friends to tell you what you're really good at so you can decide if you have enough passion for those skills to invest significant time. If we're dealing the with truth about ourselves, then at least can know how hard we have to work to overcome our challenges instead of fantasizing that it's not all that hard to just do something (or worse, just waiting for someone else to hand us opportunities, resources, or answers to our problems). If you know the truth about yourself or some part of yourself, pretending it isn't real won't make it go away; it just means you're ignorning it, which is when you really get in trouble.