Since a year ago, the anticipation for “The Dark Knight Rises” slowly built up inside me and every other fan. We waited for little pieces of news, were excited for the first teaser; we combed the internet for paparazzi set photos, salivated over each new trailer, elevated Christopher Nolan to deity-status, called it this year’s Best Picture before we even saw it, threatened critics who didn’t agree with us, camped outside the theater, and the night it was released, we got the kick that rudely awakened us from our dreams. 12 dead, 58 injured; the Joker lives.
I still went to see the movie the next day, but I didn’t care. I sat there in the theater hoping to be swooned by its Siren song, but the fantasy was gone. I watched the whole thing knowing that, regardless if it was good or bad, it wasn’t real, it wouldn’t fill me, and it no longer mattered; why did we make it matter in the first place?
Have we made life more about fantasy or reality? What is reality? I wish I could water it down to something as subjective as “Reality is whatever I believe it to be” but because life is filled with too many shifting “realities” for all of them to be consistently real, I feel compelled to examine the activities and interests with which we fill our time and ask what places those activities are actually taking us and if those places actually matter to humanity as a whole.
I won’t waste energy criticizing the hobbies and interests we use to determine what matters—Comic-Con, the Olympics, sports, our teams, fashion, Apple products, technology, role-playing games, literature, stories, reality TV, music, movies, celebrity news, parties, clubbing, sex, hoards of stuff in our homes; pastimes can be fun. But, if our interests are moving us from reality into a level of fantasy where we cannot distinguish the difference anymore, then for what purpose are those interests serving except for the deception of our minds and the neglect of our responsibilities? Do we prefer being deceived? As I write this at the library, I look past the shelves of movies, XBox games, new fiction books, and, out the window, see a Hunger Task Force truck handing out bags of fresh produce and wonder “How real are the stories we have chosen to tell about ourselves?”
Try searching through the gospels and see how many times Jesus begins with “I tell you the truth” and ask if the substance of Jesus’ reality was grounded in fantasy or in truth?
I live right next to a cemetery and since there are several paths going through it, it makes a helpful walking trail for neighborhood residents. I’ve taken walks through there at all hours and seasons and if I’ve learned anything from walking through that cemetery, it’s that we are all headed there. I don’t know how many hundreds of people are buried there, I don’t know their names, what they did, what they achieved, what they believed, what their dreams were, and I sure as Heaven and Hell don’t know what their hobbies and interests were; I just know they’re dead. And it compels me to stop and ask “For what in life is it really worth investing ourselves?”
From the moment we wake up in the morning to when we fall asleep at night, what do we sense is actually real and worth living?