Hey guys, hope you’ve had a happy 4th of July! It’s Saturday again so I’m here to bring you another philosophical story challenge. This week I want to focus on perception versus reality. I think it’s a common theme throughout life that everyone views the world through their own lens of perception which is crafted by their own experiences and biases. How can we come to a true understanding of what we see and experience if everything we see and experience is interpreted by a brain which overlays all of past experiences onto it; how can there be any objectivity at all? It’s easy to say that we should only deal with facts and empirically tested ideas but even these are in question–how can we trust an empirical test when it relies on our senses to interpret the data that it yields? It seems as though we just have to accept that at some level we have to trust our senses, even though we know how fallible they can be. The problem is that this leaves some room for differences between “reality” and our perceptions. 200 years ago if you had told someone about our atomic theory they would have laughed; they didn’t have the tools we have to measure the things that we can measure to verify this data. It is both the beauty and the weakness of science; it can tell you the most accurate information that you can observe, but that doesn’t make it true–it just makes it the most accurate information available. Your challenge this week is to write a story where perceptions and reality are different from each other. I’m leaving it up to you to decide how you want to portray this theme; but, as always, if you want to post on here please keep it under 1,000 words. Otherwise, feel free to write more! Have fun.
6 thoughts on “Philosophical Story Challenge”
hi, I totally appreciate your blog and now have a little something inspired by your challenge. I am not sure at all this is making sense in any way, but yep, I thought i’d post it anyways, well, a link, as the piece contains more than 1000 words.
I love this challenge!
What I See
By: Justina Luther
Were they all crazy? Slamming my bedroom door I locked it a moment before my mother began rattling the knob.
“Honey? Sweetie, please let me in. This is serious. You’re not—”
Grabbing my pillow I wrapped it around my head. They were all delusional. I wasn’t sick, I was fat. I could fix it too, if they just wouldn’t keep shoving food down my throat.
After a moment I could tell she had gone. I turned to throw my pillow back onto my bed and the floor began to move in waves beneath my feet, my vision constricting. I had to sit down until the feeling passed. Looking at the mirror I pinched the fat on my stomach, thighs, arms, and face. “Just keep working, Cara, you can be thin.”
Opening my window I climbed onto a thick tree branch and jumped down into the backyard. I crouched until I saw my mother through the kitchen window, her back turned to me. Jumping up I sprinted for the gate and didn’t stop as it crashed closed behind me. My bare feet slapped the sidewalk and my lungs burned. I kept running. “Don’t let the fat win.”
As I neared Main Street the bakery called to me, the pastries and croissants, the cakes and pies, I longed for them all. Drawing closer, the air began to close in around me yet seemed to refuse to enter my lungs. By the time I reached the bakery, I was forced to sit down on the steps. People walked past me, looks of pity in their eyes when they saw me. I scowled at them as they left with their treats, the aroma threatening to overwhelm me. Folding my arms, I looked away. I didn’t need their pity, or their sweets. How dare they? So what if they were thinner than I was? I was working on it.
I blinked into the sun, shielding my eyes as my friend Carter sat down beside me.
“Here for a sugar cookie?”
I pursed my lips.
“You look terrible.”
“What are you doing here?”
He smiled, bringing a muffin out from behind his back. “I was going to bring this to you.” He set it in my lap.
Saliva escaped the corners of my mouth, my stomach calling out. “Thank you, but I don’t want it.”
“Then why are you looking at it like you haven’t eaten in a week?”
I jumped and stared at him. “I—What do you mean?”
“Look, I know you’ve been dieting, but you don’t—”
“If I weren’t wearing baggy sweats you’d see—”
“If you weren’t wearing that getup, then maybe you’d see you don’t need a diet.”
I clinched my fists. “What right do you have to tell me what I should be eating? You have no idea what I weigh!”
“Do you? When was the last time you stepped on the scale? Cara, coach told you to lose a couple before track started, but even he says you’re going overboard!”
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I sighed. “Carter, listen. I believe what I see in the mirror. I know what my body needs. There are plenty of girls out there that are 5’5” that have gone a lot lower than I want to. I only need to lose a few,” thousand, “more pounds.”
He picked the treat up. “Just eat the muffin.”
“No!” I knocked his hand away sending the offense flying. Standing I began to sway.
Carter grabbed for me, but all he caught were my sweatpants which slid to the ground. My face beamed red.
“I’m sorry, I—”
Yanking them up, I bolted for the safety of home. The world around me spun as I grabbed for worm like tree branches. Somehow I managed my way back through my window.
As I collapsed onto the floor Carter’s question ran laps in my mind. How much did I weigh? Had my work paid off? Could I stop torturing myself? Had I finally accomplished my dream of weighing 125? Crawling to my bathroom, I leaned against the wall until the world stopped spinning backward. Getting to my feet, I stripped to my bathing suit—yeah, I wear a bathing suit under my sweat suit, it makes me sweat more—and stepped on the scale.
I blinked, my mouth going dry as the scale flashed the number 98. Tears began to stream down my face as my mother’s voice rang in my ears. “Cara, you’re sick.”
Justina, this piece really hit home with me. Well done. The last line almost brought tears to my eyes. This writing reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of America Dad, “Stanorexia”
Also does wearing your swim suit under clothing really make you sweat more?
I’m not certain, but it seemed in character for her to be wearing layers to make her sweat more. Since swimsuits are usually a thicker material, it made sense to me. Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.
I have to say that this is an excellent response to Neal’s challenge. I think the fact that she has no true idea how much she weighs and yet is convinced that she’s fat is an interesting picture. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t known many anorexics, so I really don’t know how accurate it is.
Thank you! This character also suffers from BDD (body dysmorphic disorder), a condition whereby someone’s view of their physical appearance is drastically skewed.