Have you ever considered reality? I mean really considered it?
I think it was Einstein (forgive me, it has been quite a while since I did the whole edumacation thing) who said..
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
Smart man that Einstein fellow, and he wasn’t alone in considering the whole question of reality, was he?
I could probably fill most of this post with a whole list of folk who have shaped our understanding of reality or at least considered it in some way and/or made some well-known comment about it.
Einstein, Nietzche, Freud, Poe, Luther King Jr, Thomas Acquinas, Jesus Christ, Charlie Brown (sorry had to throw that one in).
Additionally I am sure I am not alone in being able to list a handful of films which focus on either reality or our perception of it. The Matrix. Inception. Dreamscape. The Thriteenth Floor. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Vanilla Sky. Existenz, to name but a few and I am sure you could name others.
Indeed the whole possibility of there being two realities with the reality that we know not being the actual or true reality and yet, since it is the reality that we know, having a validity in its own right is a question that film makers, community leaders, psychiatrists, mathematicians, philosophers and leaders of faith have all pondered over.
Indeed, greater minds than mine, such as those I mentioned above and indeed Aristotle, Plato, Wittgenstein, Russell, Frege, etc have all considered it and indeed offered their own understanding of it. Some I can agree with and some I find I am unable to agree with. But either way it is a very pertinent and interesting subject.
So what happens when the reality that you have experienced or thought you experienced in the past you simply misunderstood or if your perception of reality at that time was somehow distorted? Isn’t this a prime example of two realities – the true reality and your perceived reality?
Let’s be totally honest here. Don’t the realities of our past (both perceived and actual) also potentially influence or shape the way we perceive the realities of the present and even our futures?
Now for many of us our realities get challenged as we go through life. Any contradictions between true and perceived realities are therefore addressed as we get older – through our experience base increasing or simply as a result of our knowledge and wisdom increasing or maturing.
Life itself is after all a series of experiences, challenges and lessons. Therefore as we go through the ‘school of life’ (and incidentally if there is such a thing as a ‘school of life’ I am convinced it is meant to be a community college) those contradictions between our perceived realities and our actual realities should come under constant challenging and review and thus often, along with our thinking or perceptions hopefully be adjusted?
However isn’t it one of the aspects of some mental illnesses that our perceptions can continue to be questionable? Isn’t it true that sometimes with mental illnesses what we think to be happening isn’t always really happening at all in the same way that we perceive it?
LIkewise, what about where one or more of those realities that we were facing was so abhorrent, so intense, and so traumatic that we ourselves couldn’t face it and so subconsciously created or shaped or distorted a new alternative reality?
Remember the Einstein observation? “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one.”
Arguably since we know that we can have distorted or alternative realities, these distorted or alternative realities are ‘merely an illusion’ and equally arguably, since they can and do often continue to affect how we see life, the world, others, and especially ourselves they can be ‘persistent’.
So shouldn’t those distorted or alterative realities be dealt with? And if so, how and when should we deal with them?
There are, I think, those who would argue that we shouldn’t deal with them at all. Some who would argue that ‘the past’ is ‘the past’ and we should leave it in ‘the past’ and simply move on.
Trust me I understand the appeal of this approach. But the fact of the matter is that for some of us our ‘pasts’ are not simply our ‘pasts’ as they are still affecting our ‘presents’ and will, I believe, continue to do so until they are properly addressed.
And this is, I think, particularly relevant to me at the moment.
consider this if you will. If we were to represent our life as a continuous sheet of fabric all woven together from the past right up to the present.
It has an integrity in and of itself and theoretically, the integrity of the present fabric would remain true providing it was strong enough to hold in its own right and providing that any impurities, mistakes or distortions of the present AND the past were not so great or so influential that they have an adverse affect on the present.
For when any impurity or mistake or distortion in the past has that much influence or importance it can without doubt affect the integrity of the present and the fabric starts to weaken an even break and loose strands can start to appear.
I am, to some degree, convinced that this is where I am in my life at the moment and indeed where I have been for a while now. There are without doubt strands appearing in the fabric of my current reality and I have to ask myself what I should do about them? Do I simply tuck them back in and ignore them or do I tug on them, so to speak?
My psychiatrist, or more accurately I should say one of them, has put forward the suggestion that I consider counseling and even hypnosis in order to release suppressed memories and thus allow me the opportunity to redress situations of or in my past that might be influencing me still.
Am I going to have hypnosis? Not a chance! But do I want to free up or release suppressed memories and reface some of the realities of my past that I may have misunderstood or even distorted or refused to face at the time? Yes I think so although I do have some fears or reservations concerning this.
One such fear or reservation is that If I do indeed tug at those strands of my current reality what happens if it completely unravels and all I am left with is a gaping great void or worse the realities that I couldn’t face way back when?
Am I older and wiser, much more stronger now? Well I agree that I am older at least lol, as for being stronger, well that is debatable. certainly in terms of my mental health it does seem that in some ways it is getting worse rather than better.
But there is another, separate, different consideration here also. The consideration of my faith,
As a Christian I fully believe in the work of the Holy Spirit and within that belief is the understanding that the Holy Spirit will identify certain aspects of my life that Christ wishes me to deal with, change, surrender, put right, receive healing over etc.
Indeed when I accepted Christ into my life I invited the Holy Spirit into my life and I gave my life to Christ. And that is the thing. I gave ‘my life’ to Christ for Him to use in accordance with God’s will. That meant and means my whole life, every aspect of my life. Not just the easy parts but every part, even the difficult or painful parts and that has to include my now, my future and also my past.
The truth is that I love God. I love Christ and I trust in the work of the Holy Spirit and were I to be sure that this need and in many ways desire to address the past is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit I would have much more confidence.
The fact remains however that I do not have full confidence that it is the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that not to doubt or disrespect God’s Holy Spirit but simply in recognition of where my mental health has me at the moment. struggling to have total confidence in very much lately, as a result not in a doubt in anything else other than my own understanding and my own ability to perceive things properly.
But there is I believe one life-line, one sure foundation, in all of this. And that is the promise of God’s love and in the conviction I have of God’s father-heart, in His sovereign power, and in His perfect knowledge.
Despite how confused I am, Despite how little I believe in me, despite what little confidence I may have in my own understanding and my own abilities I know that I can trust in Christ and that if I lay this whole thing down at His feet He will be faithful.
I am really struggling with this whole facing the buried memories – dealing with the hurts of the past thing and yet I know I have to face it. As I write this I have a song going through my head and my heart and so I thought I might share it with you now. Not only because it is beautiful and inspirational and well worth listening too but because I too really need to hear it at this moment.
I discovered this artist a long time ago and I discovered this song at the same time and it is a song that really speaks to my heart. I really hope you enjoy it.