I often find myself wondering whether how I perceive reality, is, in fact, reality. What if I’m actually in a coma right now? What if I’m actually quite mentally challenged and everyone just does a really good job of trying to pretend I’m mostly normal? What if the scribblings I’ve chosen to put into printed form are nothing more than crazed ramblings of an absolute lunatic?
Yes…I am well aware of how I’m setting myself up for some amazing comments such as, “Well, of course you’re mentally challenged!” (stated in a much more formal manner as opposed to using much more offense and realistic versions of that message). I’m not saying that I ever actually believe these things to be a true alternative to how I view the world. I just like to entertain the thoughts. I mean, what would it be like if I saw the world that far differently than everyone else?
And maybe I do…unless I finally go in for some serious counseling and a hefty dose of drugs, I may never actually find out. The way my wife looks at me after some of the things I say, I guess I wouldn’t be that surprised.
But that’s kind of the thing about reality, isn’t it? Although we may be able to state that science defines what’s real and what’s not, it’s truly how our mind perceives the world that crafts reality for us. If you hear voices in your head, are they not a part of your reality, whether or not they are truly there? Do colors exist for a blind man? Or sound for the deaf?
Our reality is formed entirely by how we perceive the world, whether or not the world actually exists in that manner. And here’s where things can get really interesting…because perceptions can change, that means our reality can change.
Take a simple example: A child who believes in Santa Claus suddenly finds out that the jolly red man doesn’t exist. From one moment to the next they are taken from a world where magic and overall generosity is replaced with a question of whether or not any thing like that can exist. Does not the next question come regarding other such figures we’ve known about for forever, such as the Easter Bunny or Mickey Mouse?
Reality changes in that moment for that kid…and it’s a pretty big deal. It changes the person.
Today’s world is filled with people who live in a great many differing realities. Realities that include different gods, no gods, homes, no homes, suspicion, trust, and honestly, there’s just a whole lot of crap that goes into crafting each person’s personal reality. What you know to be true crafts that reality, no matter what is actually true about the world we live in.
But here’s the problem…when something is your reality, you don’t see it as being purely your own reality. Reality is reality, obviously. What you know to be real must be real for everyone else.
And here’s where I really like to take my lines of questioning…what if we’re wrong about all of it.
So…for instance…taking things in a wild direction. What if that kid with Down’s Syndrome who’s currently having the time of his life underneath the mushroom at the waterpark, what if he’s actually the smart one. What if we, the majority, spend all our time looking down at him as being less intelligent, but the reality is that he’s so far above us, we just simply can’t understand him? What if we’re the ones who are mentally challenged and they are the next step for humankind? Obviously, you can go on with debates about how there are many health complications that occurs with Down’s Syndrome outside of the learning handicaps that we most directly relate to the disorder. I’m merely trying to state, what if we’re seeing things wrong because our reality is wrong.
Remember, there was a time in which we considered people with white skin and people with dark skin to be very different types of people, that the white skin somehow shows superiority in mental prowess, that the dark skin was a sign that they were less human and more animal. There was a time when people like Neil Degrasse Tyson would have been considered an absolute idiot just because his skin was the wrong color.
Perceptions change, and we, as a result, change.
We change, because our realities change.
But the one thing that never seems to change is that realization that others have very different realities than us. And this one lack of understanding could be considered the number one reason that humans do not get along with other humans. There’s this sort of separation from us and the world, our mind. All of our perceptions go through this thing. If we hear a noise, it’s not just a noise, it’s, well, was that a car? no, maybe it was a plane? I don’t know, I suppose I could go look. Oh, that kind of looks like a… I think you get it. That noise could be anything based on our perceptions. Let’s say it was a motorcycle and we’re from a culture that has never seen any form of motorized transport. That thing might appear to be a monster, a devil, a new animal we’ve yet to find? Who knows? We could be frightened at the very sight of it, or curious to learn more about it.
It’s still a motorcycle…but because of our background, because of our lack of knowledge of what it actually is, where it came from, what it does, it could be anything. Others who watch us experience the motorcycle for the first time could laugh at us as we cower in fear at the noisy beast. Could reprimand us as we lash out in fear and anger, trying to destroy the devil. They have a different perception.
Of course…maybe their’s is wrong too…who knows.
My hope is that we someday, as a people, become aware of how perception molds our world, of how everyone’s realities are different. So many wars, arguments, and just overall anger happens because people don’t see that other people see things differently. We, as a people, are becoming more and more against compromise as the world becomes more and more of a scary place…but the reason that its scary, in my opinion, is that we just don’t understand other people’s realities…and not knowing what motivates someone to do their crazed things is quite possibly the scariest thing of all.
Of course…this is really just a really long post to say, I really like to try to get into other people’s heads and figure out what they are thinking, especially when they are people who are so far separated from myself in the way their mind works. It’s a rather interesting exercise…one that often makes me envy those with learning disabilities, because they sure seem to be able to enjoy the simple things a lot better than I do.
Alright, it’s Friday, it’s labor day weekend (the end of summer, boo!) and I’ve got a ton to get done.
Have fun out there!