The facade of the “real world” is something not often acknowledged. It’s always been there, yet we deny it exists in the monotony of what has become our day-to-day life. A life full of “If only’s” and voids we try filling with meaningless possessions and superficial tally marks. All we will have to account for our time here on earth. Days we spent working for some corporation that would replace us for taking one too many sick days to be spent with a terminally ill loved one. This is the “real” world we have been brainwashed to believe in; and by believing it’s real —in a way, means it actually is.
We watch the news on tv screens that perpetuate this nonsense. We keep this up as we smalltalk about no one and nothing. A plastic illusion that magnifies our problems and judges anything that dares to be different. It keeps us focused on the irrelevant and at odds with each other. If not for this myth, we would see through the lies. We’d realize we don’t need all the knick-knacks they sell us; we don’t need bought and sold politicians to make our decisions. We would stop competing and comparing ourselves and understand what it means to be truly creative. We would value each other through cooperation and watch our reality change as a result of this shift in behavior. We’d embrace our similarities, appreciate our differences, and flourish harmoniously together. Those at the top would be crushed by their own hoarding of wealth and of knowledge. It is a fictional play and we keep pretending it’s real.
But this “real world” is what lies on only one side of two parallel means of existence. Populated by those who have been deemed acceptable within the culture that surrounds them. It is the CEO of the big tobacco company who receives a huge bonus and subsequently is rewarded and celebrated in society. Maybe he is put on magazine covers or awarded for his so-called successes and achievements. Often times he will join many other entities of power and influence as a result of his company and its sale of tobacco. This, in stark contrast to the tobacco smoker who is looked down upon, judged, or demonized and made to live with the often times deadly consequences of having been addicted to the very product that the CEO makes his fortune from selling to him. To the “real world” of fake people, this is but a minor detail and not worthy of noting. It’s a fact not even acknowledged and thus lies outside the realm of their manufactured existence.
On the other side lies the unpredictable world of the voiceless and down-trodden. This place populates the other side of the narrow road that divides these two realities. An amalgamation of madness and trauma, compassion and art. Artists and addicts, felons and migrants, the disabled, the elderly, ostracized, hungry, the homeless, hopeless and abused. The place that is home to the most broken of souls. Lost artists, and dreamers; those who can’t help but see the beauty in every crack in the pavement. More often then not, these worlds do not interact. Besides the occasional police encounter or a vagrant begging for change, rarely will they ever collide —even when in close proximity to each other.
The travelers of the in-between, however, don’t identify with either. Trapped between two sides of a coin. Lonely and lost, they endlessly walk the narrow line that divides. On some level they fit in with the “real world”. Perhaps they were born into it but never felt like they truly belonged. Few and far between, they weave back and forth between sides. The underworld treat them as if they have all the answers. They praise them for remaining to keep their head above water while still holding onto their dignity.
The “real world”, on the other hand, is less than impressed. Carefully watching their every move awaiting them to slip into what they deem “unacceptable” behavior. Judging as they wonder why they won’t live up to their standards of living and often embarrassed of their otherworldly actions or words. They chastise and advise them and single them out. Still, for the most part they socialize with them, reluctantly accepting them into society.
This hell is the place in which I’ve been stuck in for the majority of my life. Feeling unworthy and anxious, lonely and insecure, watching as my best friends grow steadily through life. Through their ups and their downs, in the race for their crown. Ever present beside them through all of life’s milestones. Success in the real world, while still within sight, —feels just far enough out of reach. The jokers of the deck of cards of humanity, people on this path mask their sadness with jovial smiles and risky behavior.
The constant and intense compassion for others and the painful reality of the state of the world can be a weight that feels often too heavy to bear. Escapism through drugs or alcohol feels almost necessary for survival. In other words, neither world is home. There is no comfort. It’s a constant weaving when one side is too much to deal with, you quickly cross to the other. And on and on and on. It’s literally exhausting and I just want to go home.