“Reality: What a Concept”

…One of my favorite quotes from Robin Williams.  In which I talk about the complexity of human personality and pay my own small tribute to the man.

I have always wanted to be one of those big personality people. You know the kind–the ones whom people gravitate toward at parties, at gatherings, even in the parking lots of schools and grocery stores. They can schmooze, talk, tell a story and entertain. Put them on a panel (like at Bubonicon) and they make every minute educational and exciting and filled with laughter.

I’ve tried to cultivate and work on having such a personality. I can succeed on occasion (rare occasions and usually when I’m on stage, literally or metaphorically, somewhere), but usually I just withdraw into myself, even if I have some modicum of knowledge about the topic at hand. I can write a mean essay, but simply having a conversation frightens me.  I am terrified of making a mistake because when I do, people point it out (Look, Gabi made a mistake!–seriously, this has happened more than once), which just makes me even more afraid to make a mistake and I withdraw further into myself. I love giving presentations or appearing on panels, but a private conversation…>shudder<.

That duality in personality–the outer appearance vs the inner perception–is part of the reason Robin Williams’s death struck me so hard. I thoroughly enjoyed his work and considered him an absolute genius (in every sense of the word), but no one really knew what went on in his head. I can completely relate to it. I know I can project an image of confidence and expertise, but inside, I’m a jellied mass of insecurities. We all wear masks of sorts. We have our parent masks, our work masks, our public masks, our friend masks. You can’t know what going on behind that mask. You can guess, but unless the wearer reveals himself, you can never be sure. So never assume a smile means happiness or that silence means stupidity. Reality is a deceptive term because those masks are a part of reality. They are real, just one aspect of the complex beings we humans are. Just be careful not to look at one and think you’re seeing the whole picture.

So when I lose myself in fiction , whether I am writing it, reading it, or watching it, it’s not because I don’t like my reality. I do happen to like my life, but I make room for the dreams. I like my fiction as big as the personality I described above. I don’t enjoy small, intimate stories as much because I do enough analysis of myself to satisfy my need to explore others. I want the big stories, the ones that couldn’t happen in reality, but when I experience them, they are real to me in that moment and magic exists, as do superheroes and sweeping romance.  And laughter; much much laughter.

RIP Robin Williams


Books I’m reading now:

The Cowboy and the Princess by Lori Wilde

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


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