Goober just came out of her bedroom crying.
"There's something wrong with my head!"
"What is it, Baby?"
"I can't sleep. I can't make everything go back to normal!"
"What do you mean?"
"I keep having thoughts that everything is pretend and not real."
"That's right, nightmares aren't real..."
"NO! I'm not having nightmares. I just keep looking around and thinking that nothing is really real. Like everything around us isn't real!" (sweeping arm expansively to take in the house and world in general)
"Give yourself a little pinch, that's how you know you're real and awake because..."
"NO! I know I'm real, but how do I know if everything else in the world is real? Maybe everything is just pretend except for me!"
Seriously? Existential philosophy from a 5 year old? What am I supposed to say to that? 'hang on a minute while I consult my old university Phil 101 textbook' ? Do I tell her 'Of course everything is real'? Or say 'that's a very interesting question, you know according to Plato...' or do I say "Jeez, I don't know. Do I come and bother you when I can't sleep? Go back to bed."
Sorry kid, I can't make everything go back to normal, once you start having intelligent thoughts it's almost impossible to go back.
When I was little, maybe 6 or 7, my class went on a walking trip to some place I don't remember. What I DO remember is the sky cracking when we got back to school.
We were crossing the school yard towards our classroom, all in a line like good little sheep. I was trailing along at the end in some day dream when I happened to look up, and what I saw froze me in my tracks. The whole sky was covered with billions of black rod shaped things that glowed around the edges, all of them spinning around each other in a huge intricate pattern that filled the sky to every horizon. They disappeared a few seconds later and one of the supervisors called for me to hurry up. I stared at her dumbly for a minute, wondering if it was possible that she really hadn't seen that. Then suddenly I was reminded of watching Star Trek with my mom, the times when they would go to the holo-deck and worlds would appear and disappear in a small dark room. Sometimes the holograms would malfunction and they would see flashes of those checkered walls within the projected reality. That's when I hatched my first conspiracy theory. The woman had seen it all, she was rushing me into the classroom because she knew the Sky Simulator was on the fritz and she wanted me indoors before I saw any more. Was this world really real? Why were we here? What was outside?
Apparently I still don't have the answers.