The gift of disillusionment
There’s a unfortunate difference between the fantasy of wanting something and the reality of acquiring it.
Especially if you spent a significant amount of time poring over this dream that you thought would magically make you whole.
Ask anyone who leaves the family farm to try and make it in the big city. There may be nothing prettier than looking back at a town you left behind, but that doesn’t mean the place you go next won’t be ugly.
And so, what happens when the dream you’ve had all your life starts unfolding before your eyes, and you suddenly realize it’s not what you thought it would be?
When the crushing reality of your situation fully dawns on your naive consciousness, how do you cope with the accompanying disillusionment?
You view it as a gift. Something worth giving thanks for, worth finding joy in, and worth growing from.
To be disillusioned, then is to be stripped of your expectations and therefore freed from the influence of illusion.
And the exciting part is, once that balloon of belief finally bursts, we can move laterally to find better eyes.
Campbell famously said that disillusionment was a way of evoking a new depth of reality in yourself, and I agree. Because when I think back to all of the experiences in which I discovered something or someone wasn’t all they were cracked up to be, there was a process that followed.
First there was sadness and disappointment. Then there was emptiness and apathy. But then there was reassessment and refocus. And that created newfound space and freedom and joy in my upgraded version of life.
Crews wrote a brilliant essay on the joy of disillusionment, reminding us:
When we replace illusion with reality, we step out of our cavern of myth and take a deep breath of the air outside, brisk and with a tang of scents unknown, but it is the real world we are inhaling and it enlivens us to move forward and to value who and what we truly are.
If it’s true that a dot of unbelief might save the devotee from drowning in his faith, perhaps a dab of disillusionment might also save the dreamer from drowning in his fantasies.
Sure beats floundering on the stones of harsh pessimism and broken promises.
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Which lies are keeping your from living in reality, dull your heart, clogging your ears and blurring your vision?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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