What is real and what is not

What is real and what is not?

Do I understand reality? Yes, and I hope we all do. I am often amazed at how similar we actually are. There is very little that truly differentiates one man from another. Yes, we do have different cultural upbringings, different skin colors, and different religions. But, in the end, we are motivated by a deep desire to be loved, to be respected, and to make the world a slightly better place because we have been a part of it.

What does distinguish us from one another, however, most decidedly, is the way that we perceive the world through education, especially moral education – the concept of what is right and what is wrong relative to ethics and propriety.

It is troubling that some in society are coming to accept certain behaviors as horrific and disgusting but still within the parameters of the understandable: vile but understandable. One of these has to be violence. On a daily basis, I am exposed to hundreds of murders and assaults: a car bomb here, a suicide attack there, the violation and harm to a woman, or to the many.

Brutality that we read about in the annals of history, the Mongol Invasion of Europe, (1) for example, quickly comes to mind. The difficulty I have with all of this is that none of it is real. “Why?” you may ask. The answer is that I, for my own part, don’t experience any of this. In fact, I have never personally been exposed to the events that we read about on a day-to-day basis. I only know what I know! So I am immune to their perniciousness.

Now, does this mean that world events are not actual? No, of course not — they are undoubtedly real. But that does not mean I can take them out of context and allow them to color my reality. As Emerson (1803-1882) tells us in his essay entitled Experience, “Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus. From the mountain, you see the mountain. We animate what we can, and we see only what we animate. Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them. It depends on the mood of the man whether he shall see the sunset or the fine poem.”

This means that we have a dilemma: we can see the world as a dynamic and exciting experience, or we can choose a nihilistic and negative approach. The choice, sadly, seems to be up to the individual.

The mind is multifaceted and it behooves the individual to decide whether there is an existential crisis of perception (3) to be dealt with or something much more serious. (4) The important point in all of this is that you are very much “the captain of your own ship” in your navigation of life’s events. The phone could most certainly be criticized for damaging the world of imagination and filling us with inflated fears. (5) When you have infinity at your fingertips, it is hard to believe that something peaceful and loving exists beyond that illusion – but, it does. The secret is to become fully conscious of the beauty of life — that is real.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) leaves with a thought: It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there will be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your actions. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.

A closing thought: We are always alive with thoughts and frustrations: some large and some not so large. In all of this, I am asked to keep my mental focus, work hard and contribute to my family, and society as a whole. Some days my mandate seems overwhelming. I have learned that if I accomplish these three initial tasks, my day has a better chance at success.

Firstly, when I open my eyes, I thank God, Gaia, or the Universe for another day of consciousness: Wow! At sixty-seven you are appreciative, let me tell you. Secondly, after I do my exercises, I make my bed. Thirdly, and finally, I wash: I wash my face, shave and brush my teeth. I now feel, tentatively prepared to face my family, though not yet the world. (Parts of this essay were first published in 2018)

To sum up: This week, we spoke about being corrupted by the world, a world that most of us do not know. We must inculcate our life with excellent   and optimistic energy: why not? We also spoke about our need to protect our mental health and some of the methods that we can use to begin our day positively. If I look at the world in a positive light, am I just being naive? I don’t think so.

To be noted: From Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) — Lost time is never found again.

Just for fun: Dr. Hook: 

For reflection: 

This week, on your introspective walk, please ponder how to start your day.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful

Don’t be a wage slave – critical  thinking is great!

Quote: One of the greatest truisms of life is that the way I perceive the world is ultimately how it comes to exist.

Footnotes:

1) Mongol Invasion of Europe – Part 1

2)Experience by Ralph Waldo EmersonEssays: Second Series, published in 1844. The essay is preceded by a poem of the same title

3) What Is an Existential Crisis? Is This Happening to You?

4) Suicide

5)Smartphone addiction causes an imbalance in the brain that makes people tired and anxious, study finds

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