Learning the Difference

My brother’s first wife was an amateur astrologer, and when I met her before their wedding she asked if she could do my chart. I wasn’t a fan of astrology, though not so much because I thought it was voodoo but because I didn’t like the idea that my destiny, literally, was written in the stars. I wanted to be free, to retain the exclusive rights to my destiny. Still, I didn’t want to be rude, so I told her to go ahead. Once she had all the pertinent information she retreated to her room to consult her charts and texts. It all felt very scientific. She returned shortly with her results. First, my reading was very similar to my mother’s. This made sense. We were a lot alike, my mom and I. Second, the number one challenge in my life would be to learn to tell the difference between fantasy and reality.

This cut a little too close to home. I had lived most of my life in two realities: the one I imagined for myself, and the one in which I apparently had to live. Normally, I much preferred the former. It was more or less at this time that I resolved to bring my attention to what everyone had agreed was reality. I would read about it in the papers and in books. I would vote on it. And most of all, I would succeed in it – no, conquer it. Through skill and hard work I would ascend to some height from which no arrow or word could reach me. I would be free.

I was not free. In fact, I was frequently unhappy. If such a height existed, it became clear I had no idea how to reach it. Looking at the world called reality often felt like looking into a funhouse mirror – one moment my home was a haven, the next a prison. The only fixed spot on my horizon seemed to lie far below the life I used to imagine for myself. This was a realm that existed before words and arrows, the realm from which such things were born, and a realm to which I could freely return if I but thought of it.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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