Reality becomes… fiction

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(this one is long, and has no positive message..)

One of my friends told me that his mom recently opened up to him about a man in her distant past. When she immigrated to the States in the 70s, he told her he’d wait for her back in Taiwan. Well, she obviously never went back, met her husband here, and is now in a mediocre marriage that she’s come to just..accept. “Do you think she ever wonders about that guy?” I asked.

This story made me also think about if my parents may have had (or still have) figures in their past who they sometimes think about.. and decades later wonder, what if? I don’t ever want to have that feeling. Deep into my future marriage, is there any way to avoid the destructive thought of “the one that got away”?

The concept of “The one that got away” has long been something I’ve feared, but strangely.. fantasized about. It comes down to an odd belief I have that the greatest love stories are the ones that are never allowed to happen. I know that sounds awful (and it is) and wrong (and probably is), but let me explain. Love stories that don’t get a chance to exist in reality can therefore only exist in fiction. And the power of fiction is that it allows for anything to happen; this is dangerous.

I wonder, do those who believe there’s someone “who got away” really believe their lives would be better had they not “gotten away”? I’d like to believe that nothing would be that much different. Let me say that again. “I’d like to believe..”, because if it’s not true, I’m afraid I’d always be wondering of a better life. As sad as it sounds, I feel like in order to avoid this, I need to believe that fiction is not better than reality. That two people who fall in love will always experience the dulling of new love’s shine. Two people who have long term relationships will always question themselves and each other. Basically to make a relationship special, I need to accept nothing is that special. (ok, that sounds awful). I need to reject the fantasy, the fiction in my head. And that is the true challenge for me, where I struggle the most.

As someone who sorta-kinda professionally tells stories for a living, fiction is where I love to be. Fiction allows for the greatest love stories. In an instant I can fantasize about 10 years passing and reconnecting with a past love. In an instant I can imagine being 80 years old and the pain of a divorce is 40 years behind me. In an instant I can imagine running into “the one who got away” and us getting another chance. I want to create that figure to have in my life.

But these’s stories are not real, and they don’t happen in an instant free from affecting the real lives and emotions of real people. There are real consequences to the stories in my head.

Wong Fu once made a short film that has a powerful closing line “…and then, fiction becomes reality.” It’s a great line, making your dreams real. These days, I seem to be going in reverse. Things, experiences, people who are my reality… I turn into fiction. Probably because I feel that reality ultimately brings weathered emotions, accumulated stress, and confined growth. Fiction is perpetually bright, romantic, young no matter where I am in life, so I’d rather keep them “there”.

I want a great love story for myself, yet I’m destroying all possibilities of one in the process of trying to “make” it. I can’t live in the fantasy. I think I’ve finally come to see why I’m acting like this, but I’ll save that explanation for another post..

(geez, i’m writing like such a young naive prick. When will these types of posts end?)

57 thoughts on “Reality becomes… fiction

  1. Yo Phil, Samuel here.

    It seems like (in my opinion), you seem to be putting yourself down due to you not being in a relationship or being married at your age. Maybe you are seeing someone now or maybe not, who knows. All I’m saying is, don’t beat yourself up. The right girl will come in your life. I dated a girl for four years (all throughout high school, freshman year to senior year), we broke up a week before graduation. I felt like I would never find anyone new, but I eventually got myself to build a mental dam, separating my past and present. Don’t focus all of your energy focusing on what you could have done differently, instead focus on your future and what you can do differently for the next day. You can form your future, but you cannot fix the past. You are talented and are one of my big inspirations to making videos on YouTube and why I’m majoring in Film Studies in college.

    Keep working hard. Focus on forming your future, not fixing your past.

    Thanks man, keep up the great videos and blog posts.

  2. Hey Phil.

    I’ve always romanticized the “what-ifs”. Most of the time, I beat myself up and ask myself why of all the things to immortalize, I always have to immortalize the past, the what-could-have-beens, the should-haves that never really happened. It feels good to have come across this because it makes me feel that I’m not alone in this “living in the past” ordeal and it’s not even in the “I haven’t let him go” kind of sense because in one way or another, you have (well ‘her’ in your case, but yeah you get my point). It’s just the general idea of romanticizing the unknown and immortalizing it into paper, to control it in the way that you want it to have happened, the way you have envisioned it to be. I guess the general difference we have here though is that while you turn your reality into fiction (thus destroying your hopes on having a great love story), I try to manipulate my reality of loss into a fiction of gain. This then keeps me stuck in an impossible daydream while the possibility of a good reality passes me by.

    Obviously there is no conclusion to this comment. Hahaha. I just felt deeply moved by this post because I, too, is in this position. It sucks to have an overflow of emotions all the time and have experience after experience add up to that. It’s not like we want to bask in the sadness and torment of it all (or do we?), it’s just that when you get to the core of it all, we are the sum of every “what ifs” and every “what could have beens” that we have been through. That, and it fuels you to have really really good creative material. I guess in the end, when all else fails, we all have writing and the art of telling stories to go back to.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Phil. There is so much depth and light in you. Someday we’ll find what we’re looking for.🙂

  3. Hey Phil, this post reminds me to few years back when I was a teenager and get what people say as first love, and yeah at the time I thought that me and him can be together. But few years later, we didn’t make it, so we growing apart (basically because we’re living in different town, we met through the internet so we communicated by text, phone, and video call).
    Then after 4 years (I guess) don’t know what was he doing, he surprised me by adding my social media and…I felt that I still liked him. But when I think about “what would happen” between us if we’d be together, the more I sad because I won’t be a person that I can’t be right know. I appreciate my feelings before, but I also so curious about my next chapter (life, family, friendship, education, the opportunity, and maybe new love).
    So my last words is, what we had before was really nice and beautiful, but what we didn’t see now I guess were more beautiful. Keep your feet on the ground walking forward, your head expecting something incredible, and prepare your heart🙂
    Hope I help people who read this. God bless

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