Being Real

I read the spell-binding novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn this summer and a powerful passage from it has been rattling around in my head ever since. Haunting me, taunting me--encouraging me to search for and recognize my own feelings, my own thoughts, my own sense of wonder and amazement at life and the Universe and everything.

"It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative (although the word derivative as a criticism is itself derivative). We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, the Empire State Building. Jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A ******* commercial. You know the awful singsong of the blase: Seeeen it. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing... is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who are like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the Internet. If we are betrayed, we know the words to say. If we want to play the stud or the smart-*** or the fool, we know the words to say. We are all working from the same dog-eared script.
It’s a very difficult era in which to be a person, just a real, actual person, instead of a collection of personality traits selected from an endless Automat of characters.
And if all of us are play-acting, there can be no such thing as a soul mate, because we don’t have genuine souls.
It had gotten to the point where it seemed like nothing matters, because I’m not a real person and neither is anyone else.
I would have done anything to feel real again."
-- from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Oh, how these words made me pause to reflect. They did as much as many self-help or psychology or spiritually oriented books I've read to keep me awake and aware and in the present moment and attempting to live from the real authentic me.

datura datura
56-60, F
13 Responses Dec 5, 2012

Thanks for sharing that.

Recapturing the ability to look from the eyes of a child. Indeed. I have mused about it endlessly.

~ Different Deepness ~
Cradled in my childhood innocence,
I often stared at a canopy of stars.
Squinting, so I could reach and touch each one,
It wasn't long before I knew
Behind them was a different deepness;
A glimmer of exploration.
As I grew older, what appeared to be
And what really was grew more complex.
Masks and behavior fronts were commonplace.
Success was gauged via facade fixation...
Who knew if you saw the truest face?
Onion-peel layers of personality,
Putting forward the societal front...
Small wonder there is so much stress.
The effort to maintain it requires much energy;
Trying to stay healthy under such duress.
It has been said,
"To be wild means you carry nothing that needs explained,"
So I guess we must all be in recovery.
Courting becomes a dance with adept facades,
And marriage a time-released discovery.
To explore the depth behind each others' stars...
To touch that which twinkles in our lovers' eyes.
How many you's and are's
Lie buried or residualized?
Even Nature has Her layers...
Organs to cells, to molecules, to DNA.
Atoms with electrons soaring within.
All of us are strands in fields of hay
On planets in galaxies far, far away.
At times even our own landscape
Becomes a journey to embark upon...
All the different tiers...the quiet, dusty shelves...
Revelations "not in our stars,
But within ourselves."
Connifer/@Copyright 7-2002

Well done, Connifer!

Profound, Dat ...".I've read to keep me awake and aware and in the present moment and attempting to live from the real authentic me" ....(Me too).

Big hug to you, Duchess. So proud of the strong, authentic person you are.

You are making me cry now. X

<p>To recapture the wonders of childhood,when we noticed so much more,when our heads were not so crammed with all sorts of things which blurred everything else,when we not only saw things but felt them keenly,when we felt how WE felt,and not how we thought we should feel,it is difficult to put into words,we are taught to fit in little boxes, say what is deemed"politically correct" and so lose our spontaneity.</P>

So true, Berangere! One teacher calls this process "domestication"--a very fitting word for it, I believe. I also believe with awareness we can mostly break free if we really try and constantly check in with ourselves to see what we really are feeling......the only way to find real authenticity.

Thank You for the story. I feel very privileged that life does not have that affect on me. I can still become awed by a sunset, or memorized by a mountain stream, or become thoroughly intoxicated by my own adrenalin when barely clinging to a hand hold on a distant peak.
When life all runs together I think I will be ready to trade it in for another model. May you have peace my wonderful sister.

I also feel fortunate that I live in close daily contact with nature and feel in awe of her majesty every day, in her grandeur and in the smaller ways-- watching a seed that I have placed in beloved soil emerge and grow, for example.

But I could also see that there was some truth in this passage as far as the way the movies, television, the internet has impacted us all.

Peace to you also!

I think that the Velveteen Rabbit story rather beautifully (and simply) explains what being real is.

I had the "Once you are real" quote from The Velveteen Rabbit on my wall in my college dorm...somehow everything seemed so much simpler then.

Given your story, I realize the irony of posting a quote, but it reminded me of this...

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." ~ Oscar Wilde

Hi Sciguy! I enjoy irony, and I always love a good quote...and this is definitely a good one!

Yes, SF, I know what you mean. A lot of people waste a lot of time searching for that one "perfect" soul mate!

To me, this is about conformity and cool. I think we're all real people, we just don't know what we're talking about much of the time because we're repeating that dog eared script. Or, because we don't have an original comment, we say what fits the situation. Or, we don't want to sound stupid, by floating something creative. And, maybe we're not that different from each other. And, we're busy, so we miss the beauty of the foggy morning because our minds are elsewhere. We missed the hummingbird by the window because we were preoccupied. Stared right at it, but didn't see it. Too lost in wondering what Missy meant when she said disapprovingly, "Really, Mary? Really?"

Look at you... really, Mary? Faerie sooo love this side of you. =)

Great interpretation Mary!
(And I'm not just saying that because you're a princess....but you are a princess...)

I think you have captured a lot of what the writer is getting at.
What did Missy mean?

Well, there is no, "Missy". Missy is actually a term once used at me to make me feel small and unimportant. So, I shouldn't pay attention to her and should watch the hummingbird instead!

Faerie is totally seeing this kinda different... I dunno, but correct me if I'm wrong but isn't discovery of anything in the experience and not discovering some kind of thing unfound? Whether it's through technology or the real world, it's going through the motion of allowing our senses just be. It doesn't matter if its for the first time, or second time, or the umpteenth time we've gone through it... what matters is how you'll perceive it this time around.

Isn't it being true to yourself at that given moment, regardless how it felt like yesterday, or how we think it will feel like tomorrow? So what if there are a gazillion of characters we play out... why should we settle for only one? Aren't we all bits and pieces of every experience we have encountered?

Am I lost???

I think we must all look at this passage through our own very unique lens of perception and come away with different things! To me it was saying that people today are losing their sense of wonder because of all the media they've seen, all the movies and TV and even commercials that have tended to give us all scripted responses instead of truly living in and enjoying the moment for ourselves with our own thoughts and feelings. To me the passage is a cautionary tale, a reminder to really inhabit our own life.

I think it's ok to play out characters as long as we are fully aware that this is what we are doing, but I think the author is referring more to "working from a dog-eared script" without really even realizing it.

Like being in a comfort zone and staying there? Get all shabby and worn out only because we tend to be afraid of stepping out to what is actually out there? We continue dreaming of something but not really doing anything towards it?

I really wanna wrap my head around this, Datura. Should probably get the book.

Not exactly being in a comfort zone, more like being hypnotized and not fully awake to the beauty and wonder that is out there. So used to being manipulated by the dialog and sound track of shows that real life doesn't compare. Like living lives of quiet desperation, as Thoreau said, discontent with real life but not even knowing why.

Sounds like my in-laws...

I know people like this, too. Pretty sad.

Thank you, Datura. I guess the reason I had a difficult time grasping it is well... I honestly don't conform or get hypnotized. There was a time in my life that I was in a trance... but something inside us would always try and wake us up. And it is really up to us whether we will it or not. And I find it unacceptable that others continue to choose not to awaken.

I'm a fringe dweller myself, Sylphy...and I think that's part of the reason this passage bothered me so much. It put me in mind of people I know who are hypnotized.

I like that word, and I wouldn't mind having that as part of my role. Perhaps it has been and I haven't really had a name for it.
But you know... one wouldn't know how to dwell on the fringe if one hadn't been on the other side... *smiles and squeeshy hugs you*

5 More Responses

This is indeed a powerful piece. Very similar thoughts were shared with people I knew many years ago (before the internet took over) in relation to TV and the movies in particular. Where are our original thoughts and ideas? And yes, the "dog-eared" script analogy is very relevant of course. It seems in fact the only way to be cool and accepted is to know that script by heart and to repeat it at routine intervals too ...

Yes and know all the 'in ' people. I am really fed up of seeing the same old crowd on tv. They seem interchangeable and sooooooo boring :(

And the part about the second hand experience being better ....
"The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore."......that just blew me away. We have become so used to bring manipulated emotionally. Is that partly why so many people have that underlying current of discontent in their lives? Does real life not match up to the movies?

Wow! The cold has driven her indoors and the arthritis is being kind to her. See, she can write.

love sis

haha....and the mind has been rather clear...hehe
love bro

this makes me utterly depressed

Yes, I guess it can either depress us or wake us up and make us decide to seek out our own authentic feelings and sense of wonder. The passage really hit me hard when I read it, really made me think.

One of my favorite phrases is ...

"I don't know ... I don't NEED to know."

Just my opinion of course, but I don't think we value awe and wonder nearly so much as we might/ought. I enjoyed reading the piece, but I certainly can't agree with all of it.

The birth of your child ... bungee jumping ... that first taste of salt water surf - all would be examples I wouldn't find better from second-hand perspective.

Are we over-saturated with knowledge from new technological sources? Perhaps. We are curious creatures by nature. What we are taught or what we learn is just that. What we experience first-hand is far more effective - and inspirational - in shaping us. Again, just my opinion. Thanks for sharing something that made me think.

I agree that epic moments in our personal lives are probably not included in this. But she says "I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen firsthand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. " ....That is what struck me... And I thought about all the times in a day when talking to people that they or I reference a song, movie, tv show, a commercial....or all the times those references appear in my own mind.
And the part about us all knowing how to play each role in life, what words to say, how to act in any situation. It just really struck me that there is so much truth in that.

I guess my psychology background is coloring the way I look at the at the passage.