Monday, February 13, 2012

Where the Maps End

When the wind blows and when the raindrops turn into icy bullets, I need something to convince me that walking through it all is worth the effort. Sure -- it would be easy to shelter under shingled roofs or to disappear into a cave and to wait out the squalls. But there has to be something to keep me walking, out in the rains, shoulders rounded, collar up, glancing from under a wind-bent hat brim, and tromping toward the bravely flickering light.

Do you now what that light is, for me? Reality. Not everyone else's reality, though. I'm talking about actual reality, not the sedative constructs that are poured into our throats from the moment of our first newborn cry.

I rest well and deeply at night, after the wet and windy trek back to my door, because I know these things:

Governments are not real; people are.

The eyes of the salesman and of the seductress and of the manipulative coworker are not real; my dog's imploring gaze is.

The music business is not real; music is.

Books are not real, but stories are.

The educational system is not real, but teachers are.

Test bubbles are not real, but little, trembling fingers clutching "No. 2" pencils are.

Business meetings are not real; chance meetings are.

Money is not real, but worth is.

Gold's beauty is real, but its value is not.

Reputation is not real; actions are.

Success is not real; achievement is.

Marriage licenses are not real; love and spiritual/physical committment are.

"Sexy" is not real; sex is.

Neckties are not real, but the uncomfortable necks below them pulse with the blood of life.
I hear the "realists," now: "Oh, sure, Mr. Poetic -- see how real it feels when you lose your job or when your brothers are killed by an oppressive government. Nothing is more real than death and taxes."

But I say, no. True, I may be forced by the tides of society to either man a lever on the artificial machine or wind up being ground to pulp by its gears, but when my shift is over, I will walk away, through the rain, to the light of home. The difference between you and me, unreal realist? -- conventional believer? You hear the machine's motor humming continually in the back of your mind and you walk ever toward its sound. For me, the motor is an illusion, as long as I am away from it. For me, the steel machines are insubstantial and the swirls of human emotion and desire and wonder and love are reality.

Everyone else's reality is nothing more than a lucid dream that I sometimes visit.

The difference between you and me, conventional realist? You think the upcoming elections and the latest bill that Congress passed are more important than this post you just read.

You think that freedom is less important than fairness and that Keats means less than the eleven o'clock news. You live between lines that the masses of the eons past have drawn and you can't see the beautiful sketches we dreamers have made to illuminate the dark stretches of the unrealistic beyond. Where the map ends, you end; but we poets and dreamers, we yawp and take wild rides on the sea beasts of the uncharted waters.

And you will die, convinced you have done these things, simply because you were told that it was so. You will rest forever in a dreamless sleep, because waking and behaving was your only dream.


  1. Hey Mr. Matt,
    I honestly have to thank you for this post.
    I had a pretty atrocious day today, my confidence was shot, my spirit destroyed, and my self worth lay bleeding out. This has helped restore my faith in, well, the universe. I write this choking back tears. Seriously, thank you.


  2. Gentlemen -- I thank you. Papi -- One never goes into a post expecting to restore anyone's faith in the universe, for sure. I suppose the universe should thank me for putting it back in the good graces of such a fine fellow.