The Reality of Illusion

Photo credit: Powers Media House

My dog Lucy was terrified of windshield wipers. She would lunge at the windshield, barking furiously, until she wore herself out and eventually huddled on my lap for comfort. I never did figure out what she thought it was. No amount of soothing or coaxing could convince her that it was going to be okay. And so she lived in fear of those damn wipers her entire life.

When I got my new puppy, Bruno, I tensed up the first time I took him with me in the car in the rain. I was primed for the barking, lunging fit that Lucy used to throw. It never came. He took it in stride, more concerned about playing with the center console than anything happening on the windshield.

Perception is so deeply entwined with our reality that many times we don’t even know when we’re deluding ourselves.

In fact, the most painful moments in our lives can be when illusions that we have clutched closely to our chests come crashing down. A hero turns out to be fallible. The prize we’ve been eyeing is yanked away. A person we trusted breaks that trust. And yet, every single time this has happened to me, the end result has been growth.

Maybe that hero had to fall so we could learn to believe in ourselves. Maybe that prize was just the carrot to get us to level up to see what we truly want. Maybe that person we trusted was a lesson to teach us to be still and hear the whisper of what’s real and true.

The fact is our illusions propelled us forward once. Then one day the fog lifts and we see how far we have come. What was once a buoyant tailwind is now dragging us backward, chaining us to what we were and not what we are ready to become.

And so the illusion must go, often in a sickening crash of shattered hopes, but always, always, with a tendril of something new rising from the debris: the freedom to move ahead and claim what’s ours.

What’s real.