As a kid I remember looking in the mirror and wishing I could be something other than what stared back at me. I wanted to be Tarzan, my comic book hero. But no matter how hard I wished to be something other than the reality, it didn’t happen.
One of the greatest lessons life has taught me is the lesson of dealing with reality as reality so I can live a better life.
At the 1976 Montreal Olympics Bruce Jenner set a world record in the decathalon. He became known as the “greatest athelete in the world.” Before long his picture appeared on the front of my Wheaties cereal box. He went on to star in several TV roles. And now he is in the news again. I guess I should say he’s not in the news but she’s in the news. Bruce is now Caitlyn. Even Wiki has made the change on their entry about Jenner.
The Bruce to Caitlyn story begs the question: how do we really define gender? Without going into all the various views I’ll simply state mine: gender is determined by our chromosomes and not our desires. Wiki puts it like this: “Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex.”
The reality of the Bruce to Caitlyn story is he is still a he. Bruce can wear feminine clothes and change his name but at the core he is XY not XX. The news media insists I call him a she and by his new name. I will be labeled as insensitive if I refuse. But no matter how you slice it, reality really is reality and you must deal with it.
I’m thinking of the reality you and I need to deal with, especially as we grow older. To cover up or ignore reality can lead us down the road of hurt and disappointment. For example, I’m pretty sure the reality is I will never be accepted into NASA’s astronaut space program. I could apply, study, and train but no matter what I do reality says it will not happen. It would be a waste of time for me to pursue a dream like that.
How do you deal with reality? Cover it up? Ignore it? Put lipstick on it and dress it up into something it’s not? Lie to yourself? Medicate yourself?
One of the genuine challenges of maturing is to deal with the reality of your present situation. Maybe you resonate with a few of these examples:
- You will never attain the lofty career goals you made 20 years ago.
- You will never be rich.
- Retirement means working until you die because your pension stinks.
- Years ago you made some devastating decisions which changed your life’s direction and you remain deeply shamed.
- The home you grew up in was like a bad circus in a bad town on a bad day and you still feel the impact.
- Your spouse deserted you.
It hurts to look reality square in the face. It’s so tempting to put lipstick on it and call it something else. Let me say it clearly:
Until you look reality in the face and deal with it you will be forced to live in a distorted world of your own creation.
39 years ago my brother died while on spring break in Florida due to a drunk driver. Mom took down all of his pictures off the wall. We did not feel free to mention his name in her presence. Failing to face the reality of his death, my mom could not celebrate his life. It became a double tragedy.
What realities have you put lipstick on and dressed up as something it isn’t? Maybe you should face a reality you’ve been avoiding. Deal with it. Move on. And by dealing with it you will become a better person.