After a couple times of sweeping things under the rug, I think most people can agree that it is not the best way to deal with things. When I say “things” I mean “reality”. Those issues, problems, and events that emerge from day to day life. Even on the best of days, I think it is incredibly apparent that reality is anything but simple. Messy, complex, and unpredictable are much more accurate adjectives. This is why I don’t understand why I think “sweeping things under the rug” is a valid response when things come up. I think in the moment we see it as an answer. A quick answer. Only to find out that it did not deal with the problem in the first place, but exacerbated it. This is because it is not an answer but a failure. It fails to to give reality its due. It fails to address things as they are and allow ourselves to be changed by them. It cheats reality. We weren’t made to cheat reality, we were made to contend with it.
I use the saying “sweep things under the rug” because it is an accurate depiction of a tempting way to deal with reality. These are the times we choose to ignore things or not deal with them in an appropriate manner. When we do this, reality’s demand for a proper response is apparent. It demands a proper response. And when we don’t give that, it comes back to bite us in the ass. This makes the message loud and clear: cheating reality is not a good way to live life.
Instead of addressing things as they come up, I like to run. I like to hide. I choose to respond by not responding. I neglect a part of the reality that is presented before me. I choose not to reflect upon that painful memory. I choose to ignore that friend who seems to be internally struggling. I choose not to confront troubling family relationships. But why? Why do I want to cheat reality?
Obviously there are numerous reasons, and many are specific to particular cases. However, I think an underlying fear is linked to my want to cheat reality. I fear to be changed by reality. I fear the challenge. I fear to contend with reality, so I revert to cheating it. It forces me to change and that is incredibly uncomfortable and challenging, so I just ignore it so I don’t have to change. I fear reality changing me, so I decide to control and manipulate reality. I decide to deal with parts of life but ignore other parts. Those parts that make me uncomfortable, awkward, or pain me, those get swept under the rug. The parts that aren’t that bad, I can deal with those. Those are the things that don’t contradict my views or way of life; therefore, they won’t change me. They agree with me. I like those things. Yet here I am cheating reality. Wasting my potential.
When I cheat reality I’m kidding myself. I naively think I have total control of it by manipulating it. As if life and the world before me were some meal I am ordering at a restaurant. “I’ll take those good comments my teacher said to me. With a side of a beach vacation. But don’t bring that achy lower back pain or criticism from my best friend”. When I treat life like this I do not seem to be doing it justice. I don’t give reality its due when I ignore and don’t address its entirety. I want to cheat reality because I fear to be changed by it. I feel as if its against me. I’m troubled, confused, or suffering and suddenly reality is out to get me. So I neglect those parts. Then reality is my friend again. Right by my side, allowing me to stay in the same place. However, cheating reality is not the correct response. Maybe reality is trying to work with us and not against us.
Perhaps reality is looking out for me, especially the future me. Perhaps the pain and discomfort is a mode of communication. When I cheat reality, I disregard its message. I let it go to voicemail but never listen to it or respond. Without getting too incredibly deep, I think it is an interesting question to reflect upon: In what ways am I cheating reality? Why don’t I want to hear what it has to say?