Substitute My Own

“I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

You may know that as a t-shirt on a popular TV show, but the quote comes from a 1974 episode of Dr. Who called The Deadly Assassin.

We don’t see things as they are,
we see them as we are.
— Anaïs Nin

The limits of your reality are the limits of your comprehension.   If you don’t get something, you can either enter the uncertainty with an open mind, learning fast and grasping the new reality quickly, or you can do what quote says, rejecting that reality and substituting your own.

I know that people have good reasons for clinging to their own reality.  Loss is hard.  Rebirth is harder.  Changes that threaten to disconnect us from the people, the history and the conventions that we have learned to love are terrifying.   We hold onto what comforts us, rejecting challenge that might demand we let go and change.

I hate the word “really.”   That word always pops up when someone is trying to impose their reality on a situation, trying to eliminate nuance & complexity and replace them with an easy — and wrong — “truth.”

When someone tries to assert their reality over mine — to reject my reality and substitute their own — I get all the struggle I have made for decades to create an encompassing, connecting and shared world thrown out in favour of the comforting blinkers that many other people wear.  If they believe in some essential reality, that we are more defined by our biology and history, that we just need to find a reason to dismiss challenge rather than engage them, well, I am erased and hurt.

“I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

That is the moment when we say that our comfort is more important than our growth, when we decide that others need to bend to our views.

That is the moment when we stick our head up our own ass.