There’s a cool tunnel in Pasadena, on the 210 freeway going east. It goes under a cluster of highways that all meet there, right next to Old Town. When I’m driving through it, I get the strangely distinct feeling that I’m on a Disneyland ride. The darkness, the dim lights lighting up the road, moving fast through space while inside somewhere. A few miles away, at night and up on the mountains above Eagle Rock, on the 134, the illuminated houses below look fake and tiny, and I’m on the Peter Pan ride again. I’m sitting next to my Dad or my Brother, looking at the small houses below – magical. I’ve had this sweet, eerie non-physical sensation as long as I can remember. It happens other places too though I can’t remember where. It makes me think of how we humans create these fake realities. Disneyland, doll houses, video games. We play.
We have long lives, long boring lives – at least it feels that way sometimes. Sometimes they feel short. But they’re long enough that we need something fun to fill them with. Somewhere to be scared at, to spend an amount of time with people and with heightened emotions. To feel safe highs and lows and play in a controlled environment. To create meaning and substance. To create more contrast.
We have a decent amount of time as humans, so we create disneylands. If we had more time, infinite time – or at least long enough compared to what we have now that it seemed infinite – we might want to create something more potent. We would probably begin to value pain and some suffering, and the contrasting emotional highs. We would want something vast and adventurous, a long beautiful but painful story. We would expand the small reality of Disneyland to something bigger, more intense, deceptively realistic and longer lasting. We would force ourselves to forget the long “is” and only exist in the moment, once again living in fear of the possible “isn’t”. With the technology that let us stretch our lives so much farther than nature intended, we would simulate something BIG.