“Color, while being the most visible thing we can know about a tree, is also created by that part of light that the tree has cast off. The tree absorbs all the other light waves of colour, welcomes them as part of itself; the green we see is the negative, the reflected-off reality it wants no part of. Where its definition of itself ends, our definition of it is just beginning.”
– excerpt from My God by Lucy Grealey
I am not a specialist kind of gal.
As any reader who came to this site looking for Top Ten Travel Tips, would attest – I’m more of what might be called a generalist.
In fact, even more correctly, I should be called a randomist.
Which is why it should come as no surprise that I go to the library at least once a week and fill a huge cloth bag with a random (see above) selection of books and magazines.
I pick up fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines about art, cooking, travel and yoga or whatever calls to me. And then I go home and proceed to chew through them like a big-boned gal at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Recently, while I was savouring my way through these very unconnected selection of books, the notion of perception kept asserting itself. For instance, the opening quote about perception came from an unlikely source; Ann Patchett’s book of essays called, “This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.”
A more likely source for this kind of topic came from a book called You are the Universe by Deepak Chopra & Menas Kafatos. Obviously Chopra is probably going to talk about this stuff. In fact, the first page I marked with a big post-it note had these sentences, “But imagine a world where all music comes through radios. If the radios break down, the music dies. Yet this event wouldn’t prove that radios are the source of music. They transmit it, which is a big difference from their being Mozart or Bach. The same could be true of the brain. It could simply be the transmitting device that brings us our thoughts and feelings. No matter how powerful brain scans ever become, there’s no proof that neural activity creates the mind.”
By the time I read the Chopra book, it was clear that a theme was emerging. It was not like I had set out to think and read information about perception. It’s more like the concept set out to find me. Then again, it could be just another case of Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
But it seemed to be more than that. It really felt like no matter what I read, they were all concerning themselves with the nature of reality.
For instance, I was reading the brilliant new book by Eden Robinson called Son of a Trickster. It is the coming-of-age story of a drug-dealing-son-of-a-sometimes-meth-mother. As the First Nation teen struggles through his life, the spirit world begins to reveal itself to him. One of the chapters is prefaced with this, “Humans experience time as a progression of sequential events in much the same way we see the horizon as flat; our reality is shaped by our limitations.”
In short, these books and especially You are the Universe, assert that we create our own reality. That, without our experience using qualia (this word refers to how we experience life-light, sound, colour, shape, texture), the world would cease to exist for us. Roughly translated? I think this means that if the ol’ proverbial tree falls in the forest and we’re not there…well, then, there is no sound.
In other words: without us, the world is not.
But I’ve always found the New Age-y affirmation that proclaims, ‘You Create Your Own Reality’, to be a bit smug. It’s got a First World smell about it. It feels special and entitled. It also feels judge-y, like you are simply creating the mess you’re in. But how can that possibly apply to a starving child born into a refugee camp? Should that kid just keep affirming his choice for a snappy new life? Obviously that’s ridiculous.
But after reading this latest smattering of books, and trying my hardest to ponder all this, these readings have helped me articulate, however awkwardly, what I’ve believed now for some time. That is, ‘reality’ is not a fixed and static thing. Quantam physics has kind of blown that idea to bits. Nothing is really what we think it is. There is no there, there.
It is only our little version of the world that is available to us by our senses and then, it depends on what kind of being is sensing things. A fish for instance, would describe a much different world than a dog or a horse or a human.
In spite of our incredible limitations, I think that we are all necessary threads in the weaving of this connected reality. One only has to watch a synchronized flock of birds or a school of fish to see that they are from a unified field one consciousness. They simply appear as many.
And though, as human beings, we are seldom harmonious, I believe that we too, are manifestations of that one consciousness. It’s just that we are oh-so-busily intent on wanting to be singular. Our egos like to think we’re independent, but perhaps, simply by being here, we are collectively singing our universe into existence.
And darlings, if that is the case, then each thought and action that we bring to this life of ours is extremely important. It creates not only our reality but the one shared by our fellow beings.
Maybe, just maybe, we are not only the rock but also the rock thrown into the pond, the sound of the splash, the play of the light, the concentric ripples and the stirring of the grasses on the shore. We are the smell of dark life and the deep still waters.
It’s as good a version of reality as any in this crazy mixed-up world.
I’m running with it.