When Confronted With Reality

Colin Dexter wrote a series of detective novels based on the character “Inspector Morse.” They were adapted by BBC (and shown on PBS as part of the Sunday Masterpiece Mystery summer series) and then used as the source for the latest series “Endeavor” showing Morse as a young man.

Morse puts the pieces together, comes to a logical conclusion, then discovers he’s wrong. Unlike Sherlock Holmes who was always right, Morse is seldom right–until the end.

He figures it out, discovers he’s wrong, puts the pieces together again with the new piece of information, and then he’s wrong again. This continues until the final few pages.

I just spent a half-hour this morning fruitlessly searching for the source of the observation:

There are two types of people when faced with reality: those who bend the facts to fit with their preconceived view and those who adapt themselves to the new facts.

Which are you? Do you even recognize that in yourself? Can you change if you need to?

I am instinctively like Morse. I will adapt to a new reality. It may take me some time. I may have to digest the facts. Sometimes it’s a shock to discover that you’re wrong. Or that you’re not the center of the universe.

Some people seem incapable of adapting. They tell themselves a story of how things were. Convince themselves of that version of reality (which wasn’t real). And continue on.

Is there any way to deal with such people when they remain obstinately convinced of reality the way it exists in their imagination?

Probably not.

But if that person is us, then we eventually need to come to the realization that we’ve interpreted the facts wrongly and that it is us–not the facts–that need to change.

It says in Proverbs “A fool returns to his folly.” The book was written to be like a mirror held up to our lives where we see that we are the fool, and that we need to change. I’m not sure we can change someone else, but you might ponder these questions. Where is it in our lives that we hold on to a view of reality that is wrong? What can we do to open our eyes and see?

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