I have a constant, horrifying gut instinct rooted very deep inside of me. It is a fear – rather, a knowledge – that something is fundamentally wrong with everything. It’s much like the sensation you feel in a dream, when you can’t put your finger on what’s not right. There’s never a second when I lose this nagging confusion about the state of all things, about everything I know or have known. Part of it may be that I have depression and anxiety. But the most frustrating thing is that I can’t even explain it to myself. I've thought about reality so much that the potential for its non-reality has become completely ingrained in me.
Images floating through my mind, always shading each memory and imagination a different color, always bringing some intense longing or sadness or bittersweet joy to me. Half-remembered dreams that never happened. That feeling when you wake up in the morning, when the mood of your nightmare seeps into your life. That feeling always. Always changing.
I think the reason this world feels like a dream to me is that, in a way, it is. It’s a fragmented, screwed up, utterly perplexing, thoroughly beautiful dream. There is something fundamentally wrong with it. It is only “real” as far as our definition of “real” goes. It may be “real,” but it is also perceived, and perception is not reality.
The answer might be faith. “Faith” is a word that gets overused by Christians. People describe their whole religion as “faith.” But faith is something more specific than that. Sometimes Christians talk about how sure they are of God’s existence. For them, it’s not faith, it’s knowledge. I can’t understand that. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just can’t understand it. To me the point of faith is that you aren't sure of the outcome. Knowledge doesn't take faith – if you’re certain something is real, you don’t need faith to believe in it.
It seems most people take the reality of reality for granted. That's my problem, if it's a problem. I don't take it for granted at all. In this reality, maybe it makes sense to believe in God. In this reality, maybe you could say that you know that He exists - after all, He has visited before. But if you step back and stop taking the existence of reality for granted, faith becomes something different entirely. It's not saying "I believe this world is real and God is real." It's saying "I believe that God is real regardless of whether or not this world is real." I hate when it seems that belief in God has to be based off perception. *
That belief is the belief in a true and transcendent reality. Sometimes we catch glimpses of it, in trees or mountains or sunsets or smiles. This is a dream where we happen to be able to choose what we wake up to. Faith is about saying “When I wake up, I believe You’ll be there.”
Or maybe you choose wrong. Then you’ll have to wake up and say “Well, I’ll be damned.” **
Anyway. In that reality, perception will not exist. Those glimpses will become fiercely real. You’ll realize joy was just a glimpse. It will make sense, it will last, it will transcend. I think it will be as freeing as waking up from a bad dream.
I don’t think that that gut instinct is going to go away. I don’t think my depression is going to be leaving soon. But there are still glimpses. There are still people to exist with. And right now, there is cold October air. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and just enjoy that.
*Apologies if my rambling about reality is confusing. I don’t think I’m very skilled at explaining it. It also might help if I fully understood it myself.
**Further apologies. Apparently my sense of humor is going through a somewhat grim phase…