This post has been percolating in my brain for some time and now I am finally sitting down and writing it. If it gets a little long, forgive me but there is so much to talk about.
Reality is an overused word these days. Reality TV shows, virtual reality, the internet, the “reality” of what is happening in Washington, the “real” sour cream (and don’t get me started on the word “natural”), all of these have totally compromised our perception of reality. We use adjectives and adverbs to extend, judge and glorify what is often a simple moment. Read the papers, listen to the news on TV and you will hear very little of what is actually going on, you will hear words designed to make you interested in what is going on. In fact, read an article some time and take out the adverbs and adjectives, all the judgement words, and see how short the news becomes.
The fact is, reality is individual and fluid. It is often shaped by how we perceive the world. It is shaped by how our neurons fire (or don’t fire). It is molded according to what medications we are taking or what limitations we are working with. My reality when I was in my depression (I like to call it my terrible time) was different than it is right now. And my reality when I was 20 was, well, I don’t know what it was, I was young and stupid and just a tad bit naive.
I once worked with schizophrenics in a state hospital. This was just before the revolving door policy that has been sooooooo successful. (not) I worked on the chronic ward and dealt with men and women whose sense of reality was chained by their brain chemistry. Although it was not the norm to deal with them this way, I often let them know that their reality, the voices they heard, the paranoia they felt, was not my reality. I was intrigued by how someone who seemed rational, could experience such a different idea of life than I did, that he “knew” that someone was around the corner just waiting to kill him. How do you tell someone that this is not true? How do you explain that his brain is making him think these things, that it is making up stories that he believes?
Recently, I have been enjoying the simplest of realities. I strip away all judgement and descriptions and am simply in the moment. It is something that I strived to accomplish for most of my life and I find that it is actually easier than I thought. The trick is to use your senses. I sit for a minute and just feel, see, hear, taste and smell. No judgement, no description, just pure sensation. I realize that not everyone has the use of all of their senses, but I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have any senses. It is possible to just observe, even if you are blind, to hear even if you are deaf. Reality is this moment, right now. Reality is me typing on my keyboard, hearing the sound of the cat chirping, feeling the footstool under my feet, the cool air on my skin and breathing.
Now the reality has changed slightly, all the things are the same except that I now hear the cat making noises in the other room and my stomach is starting to growl. The reality changed in a fleeting moment, ever so slightly. There are an infinite amount of these moments in each day, yet we tend to ignore them and get side-tracked by what other people call reality. Even writing and reading blogs tends to do this, I get caught up in other people’s version of reality. It’s not always a bad thing, it can open up my world and show me how other people view it. But the moments I am most content are when I am sitting in the sun with a few animals around me doing their animal thing, feeling warm, hearing the birds and whatever else is making noise, and just being.
This point really came home to me this past weekend when I was celebrating a wedding. There was a moment when I was on the dance floor, and my reality was all about the movement, the music, the feel of the rhythm moving through my body. It was pure bliss.
Because this is a blog for sharing such moments, I will share some pictures that came from three of these moments in the past few days. I took them on the iPhone, and already there is a distortion of reality as I have put two photos together to create the longer view of the soybeans. But each of these moments was something I wanted to preserve, to revisit, to document. And share with you.