The wife left some beautiful candles (she got for Christmas) lit this morning, down on the kitchen counter, when she left for work. I left them lit, because they really are pretty, but I regretted it when I thoughtlessly reached across them and felt the heat on my arm and smelled my arm hairs burning and I pulled my arm away quick with a cuss word or two and...
I bet you thought I burned my arm. Well, that was the perception I gave you. It was my perception at the time, too, I'll tell ya. And then I felt stupid. And a tad weirded out, and touched my unburnt arm in some wonderment.
For you see, the wife's candle set is three flickering white LED candles, at different heights, and water pours from one to the other continuously and melodically, splashes over some smooth stones, recirculates, and continues.
It's a damn fountain. Fake candles. Pretty as heck, but harmless. And yet I burned my arm on it and flinched as bad as if it had been real fire. 'Sheepish' about covers it.
Guys, how many of you have seen a long-haired beauty with a fine ass clad in cutoffs sashaying down the sidewalk, and you wolf-whistled at her, and he turns around, snarling through his beard and flips you off and calls you a faggot? Uh, yeah...me neither.
Ahem, moving right along...
That perception, whatever it happens to be, of whatever you have it of, just might be false. The perception can last a few seconds, or a lifetime. How many guys thought their wives were faithful to them, and there I was, grinding away on top of her while they were at work.
Self delusion is the greatest sin, I think. It can also be a great defense against madness and despair. People who live in terrible ghettoes paint their houses gaily, and put up beautiful, hopeful murals on building walls. Still a shithole, but a pretty shithole.
Some perceptions, like a belief in God, for instance, transcend reality. I believe in Him. I perceive Him. If I am self-deluded, I am happily so, and would not change a thing. If it is a delusion, I am better off with it, than without it. And I have had experience with both.
I am just as happy labeling your athiesm as a delusion as you are labeling my Christianity so.
On a more practical note, 'down to earth', as it were, there was a sporting goods store in a town I used to live in, that was a favorite for training officers to take rookie cops into during their training periods (where they would ride along before finally becoming permanent cops).
The alarm in this place was always going off, so the cops would show up, and wait for the owner to show up and let them in, and then the FTO (Field Training Officer) would have the rook go in first, to check things out.
Now, on an alarm, you always go in guns drawn, and as the rook turned the second or third corner he was invariably confronted by an attacking, armed intruder, and he would open fire, and sometimes even hit the intruder, and the FTO and the owner would equally invariably collapse in gales of hysterical laughter, usually accompanied by a bunch of other cops who had heard the call on their radio and recognized where it was and who was on duty that night...
Someone would flip the lights on and the terrified rook, often flat on the floor or in some other position of cover would blink like an owl in the light, and see that he had (or had not) hit a mannequin the store had gotten from some gun company, of a hunter pointing a shotgun up into the sky at some imaginary ducks.
It happened so often, that the owner of the store actually put up a backstop behind the mannequin.
The gimmick was, that there was enough light streaming into the store from the streetlight outside, and from the neon window lights, that the inside of the store was pretty well lit up, except for pockets of shadow here and there, and the lesson burned into the rooks head by this was that, even in daytime, you always, always, always go into a building with your flashlight.