Distort Your Reality: Insight From Martha

Welcome to what some are describing as the very last year ever. Not that we’re all going to die, I am told, just that according to the Mayans—or the Aztecs or the people at Burger King or wherever—time will cease to exist this year, and therefore the word “year” will become meaningless. Why the hell not? 
 
So, as long as we’ve still got time, let’s talk about how we can use it. I just finished the longish biography of the shortish life of Steve Jobs. I read it on my kindle for iPhone, which I carry everywhere in my purse, giving me access to hundreds of books anytime I find myself waiting in line or stuck in an airport. It was an odd experience of cognitive dissonance; I’d read about how Jobs refused to bathe, threw tantrums and objects, and stabbed friends in the back, and think, “What a jerk!” Then I would highlight a particularly striking passage, and think, “Oh, my gosh! When I touch the screen a little magnifying glass appears! This is the coolest thing!” And, of course, my iPhone would not exist if Steve Jobs had not done what he did. Computers would still belong mostly to hackers who would sit in their garages designing inelegant machines for other techno-geeks. 
 
One theme in Jobs’ life was what his associates called his “reality distortion field.” Jobs would demand that his engineers create impossible gadgets and designs. There were actually signs posted in the Apple offices saying, “Beware the reality distortion field.” Yet, when they were face-to-face with Jobs, even staring right at such a sign, people tended to forget their own limitations and believe that they could do what Jobs said they could. This begs the question, what was the real reality distortion at work? The fact is that most of the “impossible” things Jobs demanded were actually produced, though their creators had to work feverishly to create them. In other words, the reality all along was that they had this capability. Their conviction that they could not do extraordinary things was actually the distortion of reality. It made me feel much more forgiving of Steve Jobs eccentricities. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to know something was possible and that your friends could do it, and to have every one of them denying the reality you knew?
 
So as the year begins, I’ve been thinking about my own reality distortion fields. Where is my mind attached to ideas of limitation that are in fact distorted version of reality? What wonderful devices or innovations could I create if I surrendered my preconceptions? I’ve found that within me, as within Steve Jobs, there is a sort of psychological pioneer. It wants to see wonderful things happen in the world and it assumes that my job is to make them happen. I don’t think I’m at Steve Jobs’ level by any means, but that lunatic fringe part of my consciousness behaves a bit like him. When I’m trying to master a new technology on my computer, or find a way to get through to a client who is truly locked in a destructive worldview, or find a way to help rehabilitate Earth’s ecosystems, I reach the emotional level of a two year old. I feel petulant, teary, and seized by a combination of intense desire and stubbornly persistent fear.
 
I suspect we all have this pioneer archetype within us, pushing us to achieve things we know for certain to be “impossible.” We tend to stay away from that portion of our awareness for the same reason many people steered clear of Steve Jobs. (What a jerk! What distortion of reality!) But as I look around me at the change that Jobs created in the world, I have come to believe that I must befriend this delusional whiny pioneer within me. My task is to access that part of myself without the loss of compassion or patience that interfered with Steve Jobs’ personal relationships. Can I go to the furthest limits of my imagination and figure out where my supposed limitations are actually distortions of reality? Can I hang on long enough to the “impossible dream” to see it become real? I’m not sure. But as my resolution of this last of all possible years, I am determined to try.
 
So what about you? Can you find the Steve Jobs aspect of yourself? Can you “distort” your reality by believing against all odds that you can do something spectacular? Try entering your reality distortion field long enough to achieve the impossible. Believe that one human being can transform everything. Work your heart out in the service of your most optimistic imagination and then go one step beyond even the genius of Steve Jobs by continuing to bathe regularly.

Comments

  1. Katherine says

    Upon reading Martha’s insight the desire to explore the existing “Steve Jobs aspect of myself,” exploded! I’m In! Let’s do it Martha! The excitement of discovering the spectacular treasures nestled in my magical reality distortion field in 2012 is my gift to myself! I’ll hang on long enough, believe against all odds, and go one step beyond to reach my impossible dream!

  2. says

    Martha-

    Just another optimist on the fringe….I love your words…’I feel petulant, teary, and seized by a combination of intense desire and stubbornly persistent fear.’
    I’ve chosen to by faith pursue something that doesn’t guarantee me income…but fulfills a passion. I’ve taken a leap! By the way, I read, Expecting Adam and was profoundly moved! You rock!

  3. Sarah says

    Over this past holiday season I was being particularly good after reading your piece on surviving the holidays with family. I was watching objectively, being pleasant and trying to see pleasant but as time went on my mother pushed just one too many of my buttons and the silly child in me really wanted to zing back, so it attacked something she loves, Steve Jobs. My mother is a full fledged, i-anything maniac and Steve Jobs is her God so I said, “Steve Jobs was a bad person!”
    Well, I got the short lived instant gratification of hurting her back but now I suffer from the long lingering guilt that only hurting your mother can bring…until now. I love this piece for the great positive, life giving message that you always give to all of us but also for the added special gift of offering my agreement with your words as a positive “apology” to my mother. Thank you.

  4. Carol says

    What good points you make regarding Steve Jobs. He did have this amazing ability to push his fellow creators and employees..He had so many genus points and yet I remember when Apple first came out and the same stories went on back then, it came out in interviews. Yrs ago I remember thinking was harsh….so where is the balance?
    I’m on an iPad, your on your iPhone and then not mention our computers…….I guess we can be grateful for what he was and gave……we can look at his life and gain our own sense of inspiration!

  5. says

    I am an African-American woman who lives in Houston, and I own a hostel. When guests form all around the world book a dorm or a room, they’re never expecting me to greet them @ the reception area. At first, I used to break out in hives every time someone new checked in b/c I was afraid they would not want to stay with me. I thought that b/c I am Black, they would reject me. I have experienced enormous rejection in my life as an educator teaching English & grammar @ the high school level. Many of my colleagues, my students, their parents, as well as my Principals assumed that b/c I am Black, it’s likely that I wasn’t as articulate as my white colleagues; given that perspective, my teaching ability was continually questioned – even though my students won numerous writing contests. And unfortunately, when I started my own business, I brought those fears with me. We’ve been up & running for 3 years now, and I can honestly say that I no longer worry whether a guest will see my race & judge me negatively for being Black before they get to know me. Our reviews are very positive, thus my self-esteem has increased a great deal. I feel like I am single-handedly solving race issues every time someone who is not accustomed to living with Black people checks in. We have a great time together. I educate them about Houston, TX., & they rarely question my ability to get my point across. They are mostly very appreciative & happy to have met me.

  6. says

    I am an African-American woman who lives in Houston, and I own a hostel. When guests from all around the world book a dorm or a room, they’re never expecting me to greet them @ the reception area. At first, I used to break out in hives every time someone new checked in b/c I was afraid they would not want to stay with me. I thought that b/c I am Black, they would reject me. I have experienced enormous rejection in my life as an educator teaching English & grammar @ the high school level. Many of my colleagues, my students, their parents, as well as my Principals assumed that b/c I am Black, it’s likely that I wasn’t as articulate as my white colleagues; given that perspective, my teaching ability was continually questioned – even though my students won numerous writing contests. And unfortunately, when I started my own business, I brought those fears with me. We’ve been up & running for 3 years now, and I can honestly say that I no longer worry whether a guest will see my race & judge me negatively for being Black before they get to know me. Our reviews are very positive, thus my self-esteem has increased a great deal. I feel like I am single-handedly solving race issues every time someone who is not accustomed to living with Black people checks in. We have a great time together. I educate them about Houston, TX., & they rarely question my ability to get my point across. They are mostly very appreciative & happy to have met me.

  7. says

    I too have a wonderful and improbable (but not to me) dream – it’s to heal death. Have had this idea for as long as I can remember (since about 2 yrs. of age). Been working on it for over 60 years, have gone thru many past life deaths; have let go of most conventional ways of thinking including making money; have formed a deep connection with my Will, the divinity inside me; and have recently had an insight from nature that is completely out-of-the-box, by passes all super-memes! So on I go standing at times confidently but mostly quiveringly in the unknown with my very own black swan. Thanks Martha, for all your insight, wisdom, and humor over the years. You have been an ally indeed. Especially lately have applied your understanding of paradoxes. Much gratitude.

  8. Donna says

    I have had a reality distortion field going for maybe…40 years. That means at age 14 I began to doubt that I could do anything I wanted to. Instead, I chose to believe depression and fear and other alternate universes were gatekeepers of the path designed for me. But wait — I can design my own path! I have the key to the gate! There’s a whole new world waiting on the other side, even at age 54.

  9. Sandy says

    I’ve been working for the last six months to start my own business, so my friends and family will tell you that my delusional whiny pioneer is alive and well! I’d been feeling discouraged about the journey. But this post helped me realize that I am still as in love with the desired end state as ever – and am even delusional enough to believe I can do it! It is more that I’ve been resisting the process I thought I had to follow to succeed – imagining The Rules of Success and hating them. Maybe where I need to get delusional now is to foolishly believe I can succeed without working myself to death and living like a stress case. Thank you, Martha!

  10. Marcia says

    Lunatic Fringe sung by Tom Crochane and Red Rider used to be my theme song. Then I moved onto, I believe I can fly. Maybe I will go back and do some more exploring along the Fringe. I do bathe regularly. It’s just a thing with me.

  11. maryann thompson says

    YES I CAN!

    I AM A “MATURE” FEMALE WHO THINKS VERY MUCH LIKE YOU, DEAR
    MARTHA.

    YET MY INNER CHILD IS ALIVE AND WELL AND DOES INDEED BELIEVE IN
    THE SEEMINGLY “IMPOSSIBLE.”

    ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL I CAN ASK OR THINK…..

    (AND,YES, I KNOW YOUR INNER CHILD IS ALIVE AND WELL.)

    HALLELUIAH!!!

  12. says

    I think we all suffer from believing something is impossible, except Jobs, of course. The hardest thing I’ve had to do is believe that I can be interesting, a good writer, a success…sometimes I can give myself a pep talk and it works and other times not so much!
    Thanks for this post to encourage all of us to believe.

  13. says

    We need to get out of our own way and allow the energy of the Universe to come through us, inspire us, and give us courage to think bigger and bolder.

  14. Sue says

    I find your blog interesting and I also think you need to study this issue a little more for yourself.

    I’m thinking that perhaps you “feel petulant, teary, and seized by a combination of intense desire and stubbornly persistent fear” BECAUSE you “don’t think I’m at Steve Jobs’ level by any means.”

    From the time I first read … Wild New World, I felt you were heads and shoulders above Jobs or anyone else, in the ability to make it happen.

    Time to stop putting yourself down inside your own head.

  15. Deepti says

    We have learned that Reality is not Real, only perception. So when we ‘distort reality’ what are we doing? Are we becoming more real or less real?

  16. says

    After meditation yesterday, as I came to the surface I heard two women talking in my dream state. One woman said, “I won’t let you do that.” It took me a minute to realize that it was me talking to me and I changed the message to “I will allow myself to whatever I want!” Why was I holding myself back? Whatever the reasons were/are, I dropped them and am moving forward into positive self messages.

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