I’m intrigued by the nature of reality. I’m a firm believer in the whole 2+2=4 concept. I like gravity and until recently I’ve always enjoyed that I could count on it. But last night I went to my son’s basketball game and found I was experiencing an entirely different reality than other people in the same gym. As one dad there (who was not yelling quite as loud as me) said to the officials, “We’re not watching the same game!” I won’t go into the long list of some of the most amazing calls I’ve ever seen made in a basketball game before. I won’t tell you how lopsided the calls were. And I definitely won’t tell you how close I came to throwing my glasses onto the court because I was convinced one of the refs needed them more than I did.
At one point there was a call that brought me to my feet and motivated me to walk about 4 feet across the bleachers while I yelled something really intelligent at the ref. Something like, “Ar! Whu, cheezle worst blargle bu! Eva!” Which, roughly translated, means, “That’s the worst call I’ve ever seen!” The Elusive Donna assures me I “stomped” on the bleachers as I jumped up and took a few steps to my right to work out some energy. I would not say I stomped. She’s sure I did and is waiting for me to come to the point where I’ll accept it and admit it and go through some kind of 12 step program for stompers.
As I thought through the events of the evening I was struck by how two people can view the exact same event and arrive at very different conclusions about what they just saw. Same time, same place, same event but completely different understanding about what just happened.
And if I tell you a story here and I tell you that it’s true, say about my dad being a U.S. soldier who just died in Iraq, will that create a reality that moves you to give me a couple tickets to see Hannah Montana? I’m not saying that you believing it makes it true, I’m saying that I’ve created a new reality for you to live in, at least until someone else comes along with a reality check.
Once, when I was young, younger than I am now, I was over at my friend Donnie’s. We were supposed to be getting in the car with his sister and her boyfriend so they could give us a drive out to my house. No one else was home, it was dark out and instead of going to the car we went to the backyard and hid behind a bush. I was in grade 6 and in grade 6 hiding behind a bush when you’re supposed to be getting into your friend’s sister’s car sounds like a pretty cool adventure. So there we were all hunkered down behind a bush in the dark with a chain link fence behind us and we were telling each other to be quiet so his sister LuAnn wouldn’t find us. We were sitting there on silent running, straining to hear any sign that she was coming through the back door trying to find us when we were suddenly startled out of our Wranglers by the BANG on the garbage can behind us.
Donnie and I both yelled and turned to see a huge shadowy figure looming over us just on the other side of the fence. The shadow lumbered off towards the neighbour’s house and we burned the sole off our sneakers getting to his sister to turn ourselves in. She hadn’t even noticed we weren’t there as we arrived at the car at the same time she finally did. With me in one ear and Donnie in the other we told her about our near death experience at the hands of the burglar next door who had almost committed a double homicide when he caught us by the trash can, almost messing up his plan to rob the little old lady who lived next door. LuAnn made us swear three times that we were telling the truth and threatened us with all kind of bodily harm if we were making this up. Once our terror and complete lack of fear of punishment convinced her we were telling the truth we all went back in the house and she got on the phone to the police. This was pre-911 but it didn’t take her long to get a policeman on the phone and begin relaying our story. He took the address down and the address and name of the old lady who lived next door. He asked LuAnn to stay on the line while he switched to the other line and called the little, old lady next door. A couple minutes later he was back with LuAnn and she went from grim to laughing to grim again in a matter of seconds. We stared at her, adrenaline still pumping through our bodies, waiting anxiously for an explanation. When she hung up the phone she turned to us and told us what the police officer had said.
It turned out that our “dangerous burglar” was really the little old lady who lived next door. She’d come out in the dark to throw away a bag of garbage in the can at the edge of her driveway along the fence where we sat hidden between the can, fence and a shrub. When she dropped the bag in the can with a ‘bang!’ and we jumped and, according to her, shrieked and ran, she was more scared than we were and had run back into her house terrified of whatever was lurking in wait behind her garbage can. The police officer said that she was sitting in the dark, all the doors locked and her hand on the phone to call the police herself when he rang her up. There were a few more words in there about ‘heart attacks’ and ‘immature something or others’, to be honest, I stopped listening. I couldn’t believe our terrifying ordeal that sent us screaming for help had really been a little, old, granny tossing out her rubbish.
I think that a lot of troubles are caused when we’re not watching the same game. Troubles between husbands and wives, parents and children, bosses and their employees, citizens and their government, all seem to come from being in the same time, same place but experiencing two (or more) entirely different realities. Or as my daughter is fond of saying, “Daddy, you just don’t get it.” Sigh. I’m afraid she’s right.