Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Your Reality is Not My Reality

In the Mists

In the mists
shadows come
and go.

Shapes appear
and are erased
by the mists.

In the mists
the truth appears
and vanishes.

I have a creative mind too much influenced by the great philosophers. I do not think they teach philosophy as much any more. It isn't on the tests in high school and in college they are too busy teaching what we once learned in high school. But in the ancient age I matriculated in we studied them all; Plato, Aristotle, Descartes.   I loved Jean Paul Sartre and acted in No Exit in high school. My senior paper was on Kierkegaard. I lived existentialism.  

And in college I went on to all the moderns and immersed myself in essays and sat around the student union building with like minded students and discussed reality. Yours versus mine. We do not see the world the same you know. Well, I know. Or think I know. I think and therefore I am.

So communication has really always been an interesting experiment in my experience. In Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, Dr. McCoy is trying to open a conversation with Spock to assess if he is "firing on all thrusters."

McCoy: Perhaps we could cover a little philosophical ground. Life. Death. Things of that nature.

Spock: I did not have time on Vulcan to review the philosophical disciplines.

McCoy: Oh, come on Spock, it is me, McCoy. You really have gone where no man has gone before. Can't you tell me what it felt like?

Spock: It would be impossible to discuss the subject without a common frame-of-reference. 

We want to believe we have a common frame-of-reference. We name things. Write reference books so we are all working from the same definitions. We think.

But we don't. 

We do not come from the same pasts. We have different expectations. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. A rainy misty day is a delight for me as a photographer and doom and gloom for sun worshipers. Some see our world as concrete; others as Mercurial. 

As Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke says, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

Never, in all the history of man, from painting on the cave walls through movable type, into the ether, has it been easier to attempt to communicate, and I would argue it is at the same time never been so difficult because we think we all have the same reality. Isn't it on TV every day? But I opt to not watch commercial television but surf the net instead. My neighbor and I share a common history for almost forty years. She has Dish. I don't. I surf. She sends emails. It doesn't come up often but every once in a while like at Chili's yesterday it becomes starkly defined. They have kiosks on every table so you can play computer games. She does not know computer games, and the only thing I know about Duck Dynasty is I do not watch it.

A little matter. But such a little matter has broken another friendship apart. I expressed quite clearly my expectations, and she heard her desires. Wars are caused by less. Ebola is becoming a pandemic because of the definition of quarantine. The use of the term global warming instead of climate change gave those that do not want to believe in either a handle to destroy the planet by denouncing global warming just when there are blizzards.

So here I am attempting to communicate the sound of a tree falling in the forest while everyone else has their MP3 players turned up too loud. A tree falling in the misted forest makes the softest of sounds as it is swallowed by the fog. But you know when you hear it that something great has died.


  1. An interesting read as usual. Sorry to know that a friendship died though. Communication has never been easier but I sometimes find this ultra modern form of communication rather frustrating. I did not like it when I had a Blackberry which obviously had Blackbery Messenger responses would be 'ok'. It drove me and still drives me mad. I refuse to have lengthy conversations via phone messenger and texts. It's so easy be misinterpret and be misinterpreted.

    1. This communication which broke up a friendship was verbal. I kept giving her over flat and consistent direction which she chose to ignore because she wanted something else and tried to guilt and manipulate me into what she wanted. Old pattern for her.

      And yes I hate texting because it is so easily misunderstood. Or confused as when I had five pet clients and I got owners confused.


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