It’s no secret that we live in a culture of multiple realities. That’s been part of life on Earth for at least a couple thousand years, and it’s almost impossible not to be multiple people oneself, depending on whom you’re talking to and why.
And there are times when you frolic in the world of cat-lovers and it instantly changes to gladiatorial combat when politics rears its dragon head. Or those moments when there are two realities in the same instant, and you happened to stumble into the one on the right? The one on the left, who knows? For some, prayer may be a way of trying to land in the preferred reality; for others, wishful thinking spurred by weed.
Maybe we walk out a different door hundreds of times in a day, and if our realities aren’t part of a connected harmonious whole, we really are in a different world, and we may get very disturbed. But if the connections are there, however far down in the mix, we’ll get by.
Right now I’m working on nine poems about experiences of this eight-year-old in Rapid City, South Dakota. I’m nowhere near Rapid City; I’m seventy-nine; my mom is dead and my memory dim—and yet they’re me. The fight with Denny; the matchbook covers; the frozen cat; Lester dying; the mountain of diamonds; the great plaster brontosaurus—they’re all still me, though filtered through the years.
The world of Facebook is very diverse. My feed is heavily focused on politics, pandemic, and cats—all of which are valid topics, though I often feel that we wave our t-shirt slogans to avoid going deeper into the skin and into the heart.
Not that folks don’t share their joys and sorrows, and those are welcome. But I’m an actor and writer, and I’m most interested in motive: What got you to that? What’s your personal stake? What are your doubts? What does it do for you, saying that?
I once interviewed an ex-cop for our radio series. He described the one time he thought he might have to shoot someone: a domestic quarrel where the guy was holding a gun on his wife, and the cop thought, “I might have to kill this guy in front of his kids.” It worked itself out, but he said that during this time The Lone Ranger was on TV, and he could never stand to hear that theme again.
That hardly gives me ultimate authority on current police issues, but it’s a tiny part of making it real. It occurs to me that we rarely share those fragments of reality unless we feel it proves the absolute truth of our t-shirt slogan. Reality has many, many freckles and warts, and we need to get a sharper view of its face.