I’m sitting outside a shopping plaza under the shade of a table umbrella. I have an empty smoothy cup to the left of me that I finished in 5 minutes. Creativity escapes my thoughts as the sounds of swooshing waters from a nearby fountain draws my attention. I’m outside, but I might as well be in virtual reality. The wind, the sound, the people, seem to be so very distant. Cars drive by and park. People exit the machines and go into stores. Rinse and repeat. Is this what the psychological idea of disconnect feels like? I don’t know. I look up to find a way out of this state of mind.
I see a cute girl in a black dress and heels cross the street in front of me. A purse casually hanging from her left shoulder. Her right-hand carries a cup with a green straw, her left-hand hangs to her side as nonchalantly as her purse. I lose sight of her as she walks into her car.
Has she been reduced to an image? An image that radiates light and colors to my eyes which sends an idea into my mind? Are these people still people to me? Or have they become analogous to Netflix or Hulu character whom CGI and brilliant scripts have overshadowed who they are? We go through heaven and hell with these characters. We know their innermost thoughts and secret identities. We see their vices, we have epiphanies with their epiphanies, and mourn with them as their loved ones, whom we’ve also grown to love, pass away. We spend most of our waking hours with these characters, yet when the 10-hour marathon of 20th season ends and the sun begins to rise, we go to sleep and forget, as we enter into another world of fantastic characters and brilliant scenarios we call dreams. When we wake up, we live life as if they never existed.
This is how I feel right now. The people around me are just characters on a screen. Very boring characters who don’t own dragons, run a meth lab or solve unsolvable mysteries. Even the environment around me appears to be similar to a 4-D ride at Universal Studios. What I see is animated, what I feel is someone shaking my chair and spraying water on my face, what I smell is artificial fragrance, and what I experience is formulated by people who want us to buy their shitty products once we exit the ride.
Looking around this plaza is like looking at a Hollywood set. It’s actually quite beautiful outside. It’s pleasant under the shade. A warm wind blows through my un-kept hair. I can feel a few strands dancing atop my head. I imagine how silly that might look so I try to slick down my hair from the beads of sweat on my forehead. A gray baby bird peers curiously around a table looking for food left over by customers too lazy or inconsiderate to properly throw their trash away. She locks eyes onto a discarded pepperoni and lunges towards it with great velocity and control. The bird picks it up with her tiny beak, takes a bite, and drops it. She repeats this action a couple of times until she is scared away by a group of teens on their cell phones.
This is what I see and feel around me. Yet all I feel is a disconnect. Disconnect with my environment, my feelings, my thoughts, and my writing. Don’t get me wrong. I do feel and experience things, but everything seems like I’m next to a green screen. I can be awestruck from a magnificent scene in a movie, but deep down I understand it’s fake. In this world, I can see shooting stars, lightning storms, sunsets, and think it as magnificent, but deep down I feel like it’s fake.
This reality may feel fake to me, but it’s reality nonetheless and this brings comfort. The hours I spend on Netflix or playing video games pale in comparison to the impact I can bring with just a few minutes I invest in reality. I may feel numb or disconnected still, but I know there is meaning in the real world around me.