Illusions And Reality Essay

Jules de Gaultier stated, “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against
reality.” I think the “war against reality” is the process of aging and
imagination is our naivet that shields us from the frightening world. By
imagining that situations will never be uncomfortable; girls will never
experience heartbreak; men will always have jobs to support their families; and
people will never become sick, we are setting our selves up for a slap in the
face when, inevitably, we are forced to notice how the real world works.

Disillusionment is the acceptance of truth and the understanding or reality. To
be disillusioned, one becomes disappointed when his or her opinion or belief is
found out to be false. Usually an act forces them to realize the truth when they
probably would rather continue in their own beliefs. Santa Clause, for instance,
is precisely an illusion. As great and magical it is for a child to believe in
the jolly, fat man with a snow white beard sliding down their chimney on
Christmas to leave the “good” kids presents, there comes a time when kids
learn that Santa is only a spirit; a story told them by the same parents that
actually provided the gifts. The naiveté of a child who believes this myth
is also accompanied by the delight that believing in the myth brings. At some
time, each child comes to the reality that there is no Santa Clause, there is
only the love of the parents who were perpetuating the myth in order to increase
the quality of their child’s young life. To find the myth shattered is like
bursting the bubble, yet, to replace it with the understanding of the motivation
is a comfort and there is joy in learning that something was done only to make
one’s life better. My naivet in the awesome act of driving a car was somewhat
like my belief in Santa. I felt confident that the task was easy, something I
had the ability to do, and something that I had no reason to believe I would be
anything but excellent at doing. I was so confident, in fact, that I was not
even planning to read the driver’s manual prior to taking the written test in
order to receive my driver’s license. It was only the threat by my mother that
she would not bring me back to retake the test that convinced me to study. I was
too cool to NOT be able to drive. I could drive the bumper cars at Six Flags,
couldn’t I? I could drive my neighbors go-cart, couldn’t I? I was an
excellent bicycle rider. What was the big deal about driving a car? I was so
cocky that I did not even realize that there was anything to be afraid of. I did
not even know that what I didn’t know could kill me. I had absolutely no
comprehension of the terrifyingly wonderful and frightening responsibility of
driving. I had no idea how car accidents happened and no plans to be involved in
one. The first step to knowledge is knowing that you are naive. Unfortunately, I
was too naive to even know that. My time of crisis came not once, not twice, but
three times within six months of receiving a driver’s license. When I had been
driving only five days, I never questioned my capability of driving down Holcomb
Bridge Road with the music playing loud and a very excitable girlfriend as my
passenger. What came as a shocking surprise, was that people tend to stop
quickly on that particular stretch of road and not give the driver behind them
much more than a second’s notice. If the driver is a new sixteen year-old who
is changing lanes and looking backward, this fact results in a crash. That would
be me. Imagine my horror, as I realized I had allowed my car to run into the one
in front of me all because I was too confident that nothing like this could
happen to me. I was devastated by this turn of events. To add insult to injury,
I had to pay the $250.00 deductible charge in order to have my car fixed, had to
be without my car for over a month, and had to answer to my parents and friends
as to how this could happen to me, a careful driver! Being responsible, broke
and without a car will crush naiveté. It was only two months later when I
slammed my car between an electrical pole and the wall of a graveyard that I
began to feel that perhaps I did not know as much as I thought I did about
driving. Again, I was too busy with my music and my bare feet, to plan where I
was going in advance. Therefore, when the road came up sooner that I expected, I
did not do a very good job of making my turn. Again, there was a loss of
$250.00, my car for a month of repairs, and my parents’ confidence in my
ability to drive. When I lost control of my car on rain-slicked Holcomb Bridge
Road and wrecked for the third time, I was ready to accept that I did not have
the ability to drive that I thought I had. It takes experience, I am told, to
know how to handle a car that is skidding and I believe that now. The wisdom
gained from my transition from naivet to crisis is immeasurable. I now acutely
understand how dangerous driving can be. In fact, I am actually scared to drive.

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I have even gone so far as to have a panic attack while driving, convinced that
other drivers are going to crash into me. I feel my body tensing and my nerves
going into overdrive almost every time I get behind the wheel. I know this is
not the safest way to drive, but I honestly cannot help it. Now that I
understand the power one has when sitting in the driver’s seat, it is almost
more than I can stand. I am hoping that with time and experience, I will become
a confident, safe driver once again. The naïve dream I once had of driving
as the ultimate freedom for a sixteen year old has been replaced with the
caution that my newfound wisdom has instilled in me. I know now how easy it
would be to become scarred for life, killed, or even to kill someone else. I
will never again take driving for granted, thinking it is a mindless way to get
from one place to another. My carefree thrill of driving with no regard to
consequences has forever been changed because I have painfully experienced
reality. Much like my belief in Santa Clause for many wonderful years, my bubble
burst when I realized that driving a real car was nothing like driving the
bumper car or the go-cart. However, just as I knew my parents let me believe in
Santa only as long as it was still good for me, I know that my less-than-stellar
driving experience has also been good for me. If I had not had my bump-ups, even
all three of them, I would not have the healthy respect and fear for driving
that should always be with a person. I know that right now, I have too much
fear, and I do hope to find that balance so that I am a safe, confident driver.


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