Albert Einstein said that “ an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Yet, we see reality as anything but illusion. Wikipedia states that in philosophy, “reality” is defined as “the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.” When we throw around the word “reality,” we assume it to mean all that’s really real. We see “reality” as something where all the fake and fraudulent has been entirely stripped away leaving nothing but that which is true and genuine. The word “reality” suggests something that’s completely grounded, that’s entirely true and that’s totally accurate. We sense it as something that’s solidly rock bottom and unarguably the end of the story. “Reality” for most of us is what life was like before we added all the junk to it that we’ve added. It’s the uncontaminated raw essence of existence. In other words, it’s the untainted, untouched and unalterable truth.
Shopping for Our Realities
Yet, out of our indomitable need to be masters of our own fates and the captains of our own ships, we prefer to shape our own realities. It’s odd that we think we have the ability to wield power that we really don’t possess at all. We don’t see ourselves as wonderfully privileged to be a part of this amazing journey that’s been laid out before us. Rather, we see ourselves as being people who have the inalienable right and uncontested license to design,fashion and form this journey from the ground up. We claim life solely as our private enterprise and we cast it entirely in our design. Indeed, we have a strange way of taking liberty with things that we really can’t take liberty with. We can be an arrogant bunch at times,thinking we have the ability or the right to manage things that we simply can’t.
In some respects it might be likened to some sort of god-complex or maybe the classic short-man syndrome. Whatever it is, we think we’re privileged enough or powerful enough to control that which we can’t. One of the realities of humanity is our sense that our right to independence extends to our right to craft our lives in whatever manner we choose to craft them. That then creates a mentality that a pre-existent reality which is universal in nature and scope is an entirely unfair and unjust hindrance. The realities that we create tell us that a universal reality can’t be a reality because of the manner in which it impedes us. Therefore, if we massage our minds enough to believe that a universal reality does not exist we must create our own reality.
It’s no news to anyone that there are many realities out there for the choosing. That’s what tends to make all of this a bit confusing. However, it does afford us the opportunity to embrace the reality of our choosing. And if there’s not one out there that really appeals to us, we can go right ahead and custom or semi-custom design our own.
Our Own Custom Designs
Our “reality” is often what we’ve constructed. We build out our lives and we fashion our existence, sometimes carrying those tasks out in very meticulous ways, and at other times doing so in rather abrupt and less than thoughtful ways. Sometimes we create our realities based on well laid out plans, and at other times we piece-meal things as we fly by the proverbial “seat of our pants.” Oftentimes we exercise great care because we care, and at other times we’re careless because we could care less. However and in whatever way we do it, what we construct stands before us looking strikingly real and credibly genuine at times. We can perform a down-right convincing job of rigorously constructing an intellectual,or emotional, or spiritual, or relational behemoth that looks breathtakingly lifelike. The pressing question becomes, does the “reality”we’ve created reflect the larger realities around us? And in creating our own “reality,” have we forfeited “reality?”
Our Semi-Custom Designs
The world around us seems like a grandly expansive buffet chock full of cheap imitations. It’s interesting that what we create is always an imitation of something else. Whether in whole or in part, the things that we fashion in life always borrow from something else. That suggests that there must be something original, some creative point of departure that emerged from nothing but itself. Everything after that is, to one degree or another, a copy.
So we shop this massive buffet of cheap imitations and we pick a bit of this and a bit of that. Sometimes we take things in their entirety,or we whack off or carve out the parts that appeal to us. Whatever it is that we walk out with we craft it into our realities. Therefore, our realities are borrowed and integrated into some sort of semi-custom design. What we borrow is what appeals. So our intent is to create a reality that’s appealing, that’s nice, and that’s comfy and cozy. Our semi-custom realities can be custom made to fit our personal agendas, our biases, our prejudices, our fears, and our emotional baggage. They can be fashioned to lend credence to our views, give us permission to avoid our pain, allow us to live in blissful ignorance, and rubber stamp whatever we want rubber stamped.
Then there’s the ability to just borrow our “reality” wholesale. It’s the “I’ll take one of those” mentalities where we simply grab whatever “reality” is closest or whatever “reality” is the easiest and run with it. In doing this we forfeit any ability to engage life as unique creations and become whatever someone else has designed. Sometimes we do this out of a compelling argument that convinces us that someone’s design of “reality” is the real deal. Whatever the motivation, we borrow a “reality” and we park ourselves in it and on it. Typically we never really question or scrutinize the “reality” of the “reality” simply because borrowing is a whole lot easier to do. So we live in a borrowed world on borrowed time.
Anything that we assume to do will obviously be limited by our limitations which are pretty limited. That means that if our “reality” is limited to what we create, we’ll end up living in a pretty tiny world that’s going to be thinly populated, pretty sparse, quite dreary and just plain flat. On our own we cannot begin to hope to exercise a degree of intellectual acumen, or emotional depth, or spiritual magnitude that could rise to even touch the slightest hem of the realities of the world we live in. We build our finite realities instead of exploring an unrestricted infinite reality. We then spin little lives in dark caverns that we’ve come believe are filled with irrepressible light; and we languish.
In reality, the question of “reality”has been bounced around throughout human history. It would appear that a hallmark of “reality”is that we didn’t create it. Second,“reality” is not the product of innovation or alteration. Third, if something’s hard and demanding it’s probably closer to reality than the easy stuff. Fourth, embracing reality rather than shaping it or borrowing it is going to give us the richest and fullest life. And finally, reality is expansive enough to give us a life-long journey of endless horizons and ceaseless discovery. The “reality” is that you might want to really think about it.