There are some days where the world just feels flat. Hollow.
Nothing in the least has changed in it – the people and the streets and the books and the films and the food and the sky are exactly the same as they were a day ago – yet somehow everything feels extraordinarily deflated, dulled, devoid of emotion and wonder and magic.
Fantasy books, which only yesterday were sources of delight, transporting you from your mundane little life into other realms populated by fascinating people with fascinating lives, now seem nothing more than silly stories, events strung in an order that makes sense by the human mind using words.
Favourite foods are nothing more than ephemeral pleasures, each bite taking you closer to an end that leaves no lingering mark on your mind.
Television shows are just people standing in front of a camera and playing pretend; loved ones the same irritating and uninteresting creatures threading through your life day in and day out; love a social construction and run-off of our natural reproductive urges; cities just hives of modern-day caves, money just a man-made myth, the world full of fools scurrying in the same place, and humans just animals who have tricked themselves into thinking they are more than what they are simply because we possess a little more brain matter than our genetic brethren.
It’s like watching a magician’s show, being dazzled evening after evening, only to one day peer behind the curtains of the game of life to discover it is all smoke and mirrors, all a disappointing illusion. Dig deep enough, and what you come to understand is that nothing really matters very much. The world, all its beauty and art and ideals and goals and disputes, and its people, are as empty and transient as clouds swirling across the sky.
It would not matter if anyone on the planet died, as life would simply go on for those who still live – in fact, it would not matter very much if the entire human race vanished this very instant, for, as it was with the dinosaurs and every species that has winked out of existence with barely a peep throughout earth’s history, our existences matter only very much to ourselves, and sometimes not even that.
For quite a time my gaze was clouded by idealism and imagination, which prevented me from seeing the true state of things – in retrospect, a blessing than a curse.
Every story I read was real, the boy who sat across from me in Geography class a complex and fascinating character with dark secrets crowding his heart, magic glimmering on the edges of my vision and just around the corner, the world strange and odd and wondrous.
Graffiti smeared crazily on walls at a train station were not just aerated paint sprayed on a hard surface but something more, bits of souls left behind by their artists, imbued with power.
Gutters and manholes were gateways to a secret underground city, alleyways tiny dark paths leading to secret worlds.
But now the world is concrete and bricks, empty houses and sewers, paint and chemicals, atoms and molecules – and love interests, up close, have a tendency to morph into something very selfish and very stupid.
Perhaps these “flat” days, with the richness and dimensionality leached from them, are what other people, especially those who are pragmatic and unimaginative, see when they read a book, or walk out on the street, or interact with other people. Perhaps to experience these days more and more often is what it means to grow up. To lose the rose-coloured glasses, and finally face a world where the universe does not lend you a helping hand, magic does not exist, dreams sometimes do not always come true even if you work very hard, love fades over time, luck is sometimes more important than talent, good people are punished while the bad and cunning are rewarded, and where beauty, status and money, rather than truth, courage or love, reign supreme.
Frankly, the whole thing makes me feel rather petulant, like a child who has had her favourite toy snatched away. The urge comes upon me to shake the world and startle it into producing something magical and interesting, to scratch away at the surface of reality as one would undesired wallpaper until I find something solid and true behind it, something to cling and hold onto.
Or to do something drastic myself, move to the other side of the world, climb to the top of the mountain, live in a pyramid in the middle of the desert. Open a manhole and climb down it, into the damp, cold darkness, hide down there like a rat from the big, scary world. Not that any of it would do any good – wherever you go, the “flatness” goes with you, like static in your eyes that you can’t shake.
Everything is better in the abstract, be it a book you want to write, or a whirlwind romance you want to get caught up in. When something only exists in the mind, it is so much more beautiful and precious. Whatever is exposed to reality tarnishes, as silver does when exposed to air.
So is it better to sally forth into the world and experience things in blood-and-flesh with the knowledge that it will be always be disappointing compared to what you imagined it to be, or stay inside your dream-world, living a thousand lives and visiting a thousand places in your imagination, but be accused of never truly “living”?
The truth is there isn’t much difference between what we imagine and what we experience, as both exist entirely in the mind – and not only that, both are also subjective: two people imagining or looking at the same thing are probably seeing something different, because every mind is different. What all this boils down to is that you do indeed create your own reality, only you are not manipulating physical reality as some Law Of Attraction articles proclaim, but are in merely control of the lens through which you view the outside world.
So where does that leave the idealistic and imaginative? Holed up in libraries and bedrooms, buried in books and films and their own minds, with the curtains, literal and metaphorical, pulled shut to block out the world, desperately trying to reclaim the magic that once permeated their lives?
Yes. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a certain character is knocking on my skull, waiting to have a conversation. I don’t like to keep her waiting. She gets angry when I do that.