Welcome To The Island

Remember when Jack Nicholson asked Tom Cruise, “You want answers?” To which Tom replied, “I want the truth!”

Then Jack told Tom, “You can’t handle the truth!!”

Of course this was just a movie; a movie called A Few Good Men. But do you ever wonder if we really can handle the truth? How about reality? Doesn’t it all just seem to real sometimes?

I’ve fully admitted in writing, in virtual ink here on this blog, more than a time or two, that I can be prone to daydreaming, being lost in creative thinking. That sounds so much better than “living in a fantasy world.”

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.
— Edgar Allan Poe

Psychologists have names for those who lose touch with reality. But I wonder sometimes if, as a people collectively, you know,  we are blurring the lines between fantasy and reality a little much.

Here’s a poor example: Back when I was a kid, my heros (professional athletes) played for one team their whole career—Mantle, Maris, Berra, Spahn, Unitas, Griese, Sayers…

Jerry Seinfeld does this amazing comedy bit about the weirdness of this, pointing out that we don’t really cheer for the players anymore, we cheer for the uniforms. Here, watch this.

Now though it’s even worse. We don’t even cheer for the laundry, the team brand. Now we have “fantasy” teams.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (Yes, the FSTA), there are now 33 million people playing fantasy football each year. 

Research provided by Ipsos found that Americans spend an estimated $800 million annually on all fantasy sports media products. What is harder to quantify is the amount of money gambled in the process. — Forbes magazine.

And it’s not just fantasy sports, but how about that whole thing called “reality TV shows”. Reality, really!?

“Sunday Night Football” play-by-play icon Al Michaels has a solid theory about why so many people still tune in to football, despite the NFL being plagued with public scandals like seemingly never before: “The only real reality television is live sports.”

I feel better now.

Of course escapism isn’t new. We’ve always, all of us, enjoyed a bit of fantasy. I hate to be the one to break the news, but Mother Goose wasn’t a real mother or a real goose. The Three Pigs? The only real thing about this one is the lesson that can be learned—brick is better.

The top three fantasy movies are The Lord of The Rings movies. I enjoyed those a lot, but here are a few of my favorites on the IDMB 100 Top Fantasy Movies:

  • Groundhog Day
  • The Tree of Life
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • About Time
  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Field of Dreams
  • The Family Man

"A fantasy is an idea with no basis in reality and is basically your imagination unrestricted by reality."

"Reality is the state of things as they exist. It’s what you see, hear, and experience."

What’s the danger in an occasional escape from reality? I guess you can take it too far. Isn’t that always the way? Turns out there is something called FPP. Of course there is.

Fantasy prone personality (FPP) is a disposition or personality trait in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy. This disposition is an attempt, at least in part, to better describe “overactive imagination” or “living in a dream world”. An individual with this trait (termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms. Closely related psychological constructs include daydreaming, absorption and eidetic memory. —Wikipedia

Here’s the thing: there is something between fantasy and reality and we have to be comfortable with that. You see, I’m not so sure that a hardcore, no compromise realist, can ever be open to a spiritual worldview. For example, I am a follower of one who turned water to wine, and fed a huge crowd with a few loaves and a few small fish. I believe those things really happened, but Freud would say I’m crazy for believing so.

Tell the truth: Can you handle the truth? Or, are you too grounded in “reality”?