The steady rumbling of distant thunder awakened me too early in the morning. I stumbled into the living room to retrieve my phone in order to check NOAA weather radar. It revealed a couple of non-severe thunderstorms approaching town from the Southwest. A few minutes later, I heard steady rain rattling the awnings. About ten minutes later, the rain and thunder subsided. The radar showed that the line of storms had passed.
As I went about the first part of my normal morning routine, I heard more thunder along with strong wind. I once again consulted the radar app and noticed the storms that had passed had grown larger and consolidated while they were just east of town. The refreshed radar images showed the storm had moved away. I then remembered the old admonition that if there is any doubt about the weather, just look out the window. Indeed, the storm had left the immediate area–lightning flashed far away in the east.
I chuckled that in my sleepy state of mind, I had made the common error of mistaking an image for reality. I had been more concerned about the trajectory of the red blobs on the phone’s screen than the actual cumulonimbus clouds that were going through the area. It’s easy to get caught up in such illusions when I’m sleep deprived.
My ex boyfriend is a semi-professional stage magician. Steve prefers to call himself an illusionist. If you are the significant other or close friend with a stage magician, you get to understand the craft and art. Steve sometimes explained and demonstrated illusions in slow motion to help me comprehend what he did to fool his audiences’ perception of reality. Even after a thorough slow-motion demonstration of complex illusions, the regular speed sequence of moves fooled my judgment. Even when I knew how a trick works, Steve could still fool me.
To this day, magic shows and close-up illusions are some of my favorite forms of entertainment. I suppose such displays push the boundaries of my skepticism. Under controlled circumstances, I love being tricked. I have great admiration for stage magicians and illusionists because I know they put forth great effort and endless hours of rehearsal to perfect each illusion.
Most of us have experienced dreams in our sleep that are extremely convincing–we have dreams that border on hallucination. Sometimes we awaken from such dreams while still in an altered state of reality. It takes awhile to get our bearings and find our normal state of mental equilibrium. The ability of the brain to fabricate illusions is fascinating. As I get older, I have fewer of those overlapping visions.
“Our experience is composed rather of illusions lost than of wisdom acquired.”– 19th century priest, poet, and philologist, Fr. Joseph Roux
When I was much younger, I was addicted to self-help books and courses. Each book provided a slightly different formula to solve a personal problem or how to perform tasks more efficiently. Many times such neat, concise formulae were actually illusions. They fooled me into believing that if I just follow the steps then my life will be fixed. In most instances, there were no meaningful, long-lasting changes. However, there would be the occasional anomaly of a technique actually helping in a significant way.
It was the rare success that kept me hooked on self-help literature. Ironically, there were a few self-help booklets and websites that helped me see the errors of my ways. It’s been much easier to accept myself, warts and all after weaning myself from the self-help addiction. I still check in with a few self-help websites as compass points, but I’m too busy otherwise to spend much time relying upon them. Overall, life is now more enjoyable.
Sometimes we deal with fears, anxious moments, and are susceptible to believable illusions. These negative feelings can overwhelm us for awhile. Eventually, we work through them by analyzing their impacts on our lives and how we can let go of them. When we understand their illusory nature we feel liberated and perhaps transformed. We no longer need a proxy to deal with our day to day existence. We feel stronger facing life more realistically.
All things considered, the world is complex and we seek ways to adapt. We are presented with factoids, images, myths, and illusions daily. How we interpret and fabricate explanations, affects how attached we become to our personal illusions.
We each experience life through our mental screens and are our own illusionists.