The eye of the beholder.

May 7, 2019 § 5 Comments

What is real? Real is what you witness with your senses–then it is interpreted through your mind, your preferences, your past, and reality becomes personal.

How do these personal realities co-exist?

Let’s say we walk in tandem, briefly sharing the view. Side-by-side, we come as close as we ever do to seeing things in the same way, but even then, what we choose to notice will differ.

What we notice is based on a lifetime of noticing, a lifetime of learned preferences. Because of that filter, even when together we see different versions of the world, each of us perfecting our individual perception of what-is.

As we go along together we talk, trading an approximation, not of what-is, but of how we perceive what-is, a perception shaped by our individual experiences, our place in the world, our historical moment.

As the one who has gathered those experiences, those observations, we believe we know reality.

But when it comes to knowing reality, each of us is one of the blind men with a hand on a particular part of the elephant, each of us describing, based on what can be perceived through that limited touch, something too big for any single human being to comprehend.

We can become strident about it, insisting that what we have decided is true is the only valid way to describe the elephant. We can be humble and ask others to tell us what they have learned about the elephant. But ultimately, we come to our own conclusions and then forget the question entirely, assuming we know all we need to know about the elephant.

We take reality for granted. What we perceive is just that: real, but we do it as individuals. Each of us puts our arms around what we have decided is real, and each of us carries something different in their arms.

The truth is, life is a journey on which we travel essentially alone. While we look for the reassurance of what we share, we must respect that the journey of others has charted a reality we may barely know, and that that reality is just as real as our own, and just as imperfect.

My daughter, Josie, once said life is like viewing everything from under water. She hoped that, in death, a person could finally lift their face out of the water and truly see.

I hope so too.

And there is something else I hope.

As a solo traveler, I struggle to figure out the purpose of sending so many small boats out across the sea of existence, each bearing the tiniest of lights to illuminate the darkness. Why?

Until that clarity comes, I will continue to build my imperfect sense of what-is, even as I try to glimpse yours.

 

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