Most of the time, we don’t want to see reality. Even more often than that, our brain doesn’t let us perceive reality. But sometimes - sometimes, reality pierces through and shatters our illusions.

These moments are harsh. The struggle is real: why does it have to be like this. No one wanted it to turn out like this. We didn’t do anything wrong, and it corrupted us regardless.

We want to avoid that. Seeing it is not pleasant. Seeing the shards of reality piercing through our illusion hurts. It hurts our ego, our perception, our worldview. Facing it hurts us. It forces you to mature, grow up, be less naive. Not everyone can do that.

It takes something away. It takes away the beautiful way everything worked out. There were small signs, but we could look over them. We could ignore them. We could be naive enough to not notice them. Everything was fine.

Until disaster hits. And suddenly everything is wrong. The whole world betrayed you, and nothing was real in the first place. There is anger, directed at the world and at oneself for not preparing better. For trusting others so much. For having misplaced trust. For having allowed yourself to trust others so much. For trusting yourself so much. For trusting in your perception.

It should be different. Everything should have been different. But that was the illusion. It never was. It never will be. That’s how it’s always been - you just never wanted to see it. You just never could see it.

Others seemed to be aware. Of the little signs. They gave advice. But how would they know? How could they know? They weren’t in your situation. Obviously they were missing something. Some detail - some reassurance, which you had. Yes I can trust her. It was all supposed to work out.

We don’t want to see reality. We want to have our illusions. They are comforting - much more than reality ever will be. Much more than reality ever could be. No one could deal with seeing too much of reality in the first place. Intelligence and depression correlate for this exact same reason - seeing more doesn’t make it better.

We want everything to be simple. We want to be good, we want to be true to ourselves and helping everyone else. All we ever did was with the best intentions. We need our illusions to comfort us. To reassure us. To survive, and to exist.

But reality doesn’t care. Our perception of what should happen is superimposing intent, it’s not part of what reality will do. It’s what we would have made happen, could we have done it. It’s what we try to make happen, bending our illusions to our will. But we can’t. Sometimes, the illusion shatters.

Hopelessness ensues. Why shouldn’t it? Everything fell apart. Nothing is trustworthy. We aren’t allowed to be naive anymore. Encounters with reality build character. But only if your situation allows for it. Otherwise, trauma follows.

Our society is built around illusions. We yearn for them. We need them. We couldn’t do without them, after all.

As rationalists, we try to approximate reality better. And to a certain degree, that works - even without having to face reality itself. But we have our own shackles. We have our own illusions. They are better. They are closer aligned with reality. It’s harder to shatter them.

And that’s okay. We don’t need to relentlessly face reality to see all the shards. If you’ve seen a number of them, and built your illusions around that, that’s totally fine. Most wouldn’t be capable of dealing with seeing another one.

Seeing a single shard of reality can destroy you. A single one can be enough to alter you. To change you. To make you despair. Such is the nature of reality. Of course we avoid them.

Of course we yearn for beautiful stories, where everything fits together. Stories surrounding a small shard of reality with layers of illusion - enough to make it bearable. They can help. Of course we yearn for illusion. Reality is too real, any distraction is welcome. Why would it be different?


The picture is from My Shards from Ezra Miller.