We all share the same reality, right? But do we really? Say you and I witness an event—let’s say it’s a parade—and someone else comes along and asks us to describe what we saw. Now if we both share the exact same reality we should be able to describe exactly the same details, right? But both of us are going to describe what we saw, or what we experienced, and although it may only differ slightly, it’s still going to be different.
That’s because each person is different, so none of us is going to experience life—or any aspect of life—in exactly the same way as someone else. Maybe in our mythical parade you saw a dozen clowns with balloons riding motor scooters, while I don’t remember any clowns at all. However, I may remember seeing a wild bunch of cowboys whooping it up and throwing lassoes around ladies as they went by, while you remember one or two guys riding on horses and nothing more.
It’s these differences in perception and remembrances that make up our own selective perception or personal reality. We both share a global reality—which includes the fact that we attended a parade on the same date at the same location. However, the details of what we saw and experienced during the time in which the parade was occurring are different because each of us is different. Even if you and I went together to the parade and stood together and watched the parade together, we still wouldn’t have seen and experienced the same thing, because we are two different people.
So, how then do we ever determine what are true facts? How can we say that the sky is blue, or that the diameter of circle is equal to 2 times the radius, or even that pi = 3.142 and call those facts? How do we know that Lincoln was president after Washington, or that sound travels in waves, and that “hat” is a noun? Easy, we teach ourselves that these are true, unchangeable facts and we believe it. Think about what schools really teach and you’ll see that we are doing is making sure that everyone starts out with the same basic “truths” and facts shaping their reality. Once they have the same foundation as everyone else, then we let them loose to start creating their own version of reality.
Now some of those folks never quite get the hang of staying within the global boundaries; they start creating a reality that outside of the global template—they hear voices even though no one is around, or they see and converse with six-foot tall, invisible, white rabbits named Harvey. When they do that, then we label them insane and we lock them up, give them drugs that supposedly help them cope, or we try to correct them and make them fit back inside the global template.
But as long as we all stay within the template the world is ours to “play” with. We can see clowns in our parades or we can see cowboys, and sometimes we might even see both…it’s completely up to us. It’s our reality to do with as we please. We can enjoy it, or hate it, or even ignore it (catatonia)…it doesn’t matter, because each reaction, each expression of reality that we create is just one more unique experience.
Every once in a while someone comes along and challenges the template with some new “fact”. If the majority of people accept this new “fact” then it does, indeed, become a fact. If, however, most people reject this new concept, idea, or “fact” then it fades away and isn’t woven into the global template of our lives. Science is always “discovering” new theories that they want to prove are facts, and while some of them are accepted, a great many of them are not. So, the template is constantly shifting and changing, and that’s okay, because we (everyone) wouldn’t have as much fun if the world and reality in which we lived were static and unchanging.
Therefore, some day those who see six-foot, invisible, white rabbits named Harvey may no longer be considered unbalanced or out of touch with reality. Instead, it will be all of us who can’t see Harvey who are out of touch.
So, Harvey, where do you want to go for lunch? I hear they have great salads down at Crispers…