As the journey through the Phantom Tollbooth continues, Milo is accompanied on his trip through the Forest of Sight by Alec Bings, the boy with the fate to have to look at things from the same perspective for his entire life because he was born with a grown-up outlook.
They visit the twin cities of Reality and Illusions. Arriving first at a beautiful city which Milo assumes to be Reality, but which Alec tells him is actually Illusions – he tells Milo that Illusions are a bit like mirages, and mirages are “things that aren’t really there that you can see very clearly”.
He tells Milo that sometimes illusions are much easier to see than things that are real:
“If something is there, you can only see it with your eyes open, but if it isn’t there, you can see it just as well with your eyes closed That’s why imaginary things are often easier to see that real ones.”
Grasping the fact that Illusions isn’t really there, Milo switches tack and asks where is Reality? He is surprised to be told he is in fact standing in the High Street which to Milo didn’t seem to be there. There were crowds of people all rushing around with their heads down and the funny thing was, they all seemed to know exactly where they were going as they dashed along the non-existent streets and in and out of the non-existent buildings.
Alec explains to Milo that many years ago on this spot there was a beautiful city full of interesting thing to see, and people would often stop to look at them. Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes, you would arrive at your destination much more quickly and soon everyone was doing it.
“No one paid any attention to how things looked, and as they moved faster and faster everything grew uglier and dirtier, and as everything grew uglier and dirtier they moved faster and faster, and at last a very strange thing began to happen. Because nobody cared the city slowly began to disappear. Day by day the buildings grew fainter and fainter, and the streets faded away until at last it was entirely invisible. There was nothing to see at all.”
The people carry on living in the city as they have always done – not seeing what they are in too much of a hurry to look for.
Do you live in Illusions or Reality? Are you pre-occupied with dreams, whilst neglecting reality? Or, are you so concerned with the day to day Reality of getting from A to B that you have lost the ability to appreciate the beauty and opportunities that exist in your environment?
Decide where you would like to “live” – maybe in a city as easy to see as Illusions and as hard to forget as Reality. Enjoy exploring both!