I’ve been away for much of the week filming with a friend on a TV house-hunting programme, and (naively perhaps) was struck by the amount of ‘story-telling’ that shaped the footage, and the amount of time it took – four rather demanding days – to produce an hour-long programme. Then, I thought in complete contrast, I attended a seminar on the philosophy of yoga. Quite soon, however, I saw parallels in the two experiences.
During the seminar, we talked about reality and the nature of illusion. I have to admit that the unreality of reality is something I’ve struggled to understand in a meaningful way in the past, but days spent in front of a camera have helped me to come to terms with the concept and the possibilities. There are truths that make good stories: our love for each other as friends and relations, the enjoyment that brings to shared lives, the good that people do every day. And these can be compared to the stories that we see on TV screens in a range of reality TV programmes – sketched, sculpted and scored in order to draw us in.
And then there is the truth. And the difference between what we perceive as reality (or what we are fed by the media) and what actually is is remarkable. So I’m wondering if what’s left when everything else is stripped away, when the mind is emptied of thought, is the same as what’s left on the cutting-room floor when a programme is finished. If, for most of us, our lives are manufactured to create something that looks more attractive than the real thing. And if The Truman Show wasn’t entertainment at all – but a missed opportunity to explore what our lives are truly about.