Today on our daily hike in the forest I ran into a woman walking with her dog. My dogs & I were walking south & she & her dog were walking north. She asked me how to get to Moonridge, & I told her she was going the exact opposite direction, & that if she kept going on this trail she would end up in Big Bear City, 180 degrees from where she wanted to end up. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her she was walking north. I said (pointing to the sun in the late afternoon) Look. That’s west. It was on your left. That means you were walking north. She was highly suspicious. She asked where we were going. I said At the end of this trail you will be a few steps from Moonridge, if you want to come along with us I’ll show you. So we walked up to the end of that part of the trail, where I would take one fork to get back to my starting point & she would take the other. I pointed to where she needed to be. I said There’s Moonridge. You can see it from here. There was no convincing her, though, & she proceeded to keep walking with me even though it was north & taking her away from Moonridge. She kept trying to impress on me how this must be the road to Moonridge, which was actually now at our backs and getting farther away by the second. I said No, now you are walking north. Moonridge is back there. South. She looked really irritated.
Her dog was this year-old boxer who had been to the vet & was wearing one of those Elizabethan collars, poor little guy. She said they made a point of asking the vet for a clear one so he could see where he was going, which I thought was pretty funny, considering.
I keep thinking about how this was the perfect enactment of how we look Truth in the face & say War is Peace. Up is Down. Big Bear City is Moonridge. How your brain can be so fixated on a reality it has conjured up, you ignore everything your senses are telling you. I actually think I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. House is Security. Job is Fulfilling. That sort of thing. Maybe that’s why I’m laughing about it now. Always refreshing to realize you’re walking down a crowded sidewalk in your underwear.
Those old color-TV ads. Maybe they still have them now, I don’t know. Even as a kid I remember thinking how odd it was that they actually got people to say to themselves “Wow. The color on the TV in that commercial is so much better than the color on the one I’m watching it on.” You cannot escape the image your TV is providing you with, but your brain has gotten you to say “Wow. The life I’m seeing on that other TV is so much richer, fuller, more interesting than mine.” No wonder the ads work; we’re totally predisposed.
So when we came to the fork that led to my car, I told her one more time, You’re walking north right now. I could tell she was still irritated with me for continuing to tell her that north was north and south was south & wanted me gone.When I left her, there she was, clinging to north like a compass needle in the late afternoon, with her dog zooming around in circles with that cone on his head.