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reality of life

There are many ways of seeing, thinking about and conceiving of reality. Some tend toward limiting the scope of the idea of reality to factual or verifiable conclusions about the material universe. Others expand that to include perceived spiritual, emotional, and conceptual realities. Some are more comfortable in a world framed by abstract ideas while other find their meaning in the realities of social interactions. Some minds need hard, concrete categories to function comfortably, while others prefer to embrace the holistic, creative, intangible, unpredictable, fluid and evolving mysteries of life.

The reality of life is in essence a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional expression of personal and individual lived experience. It covers all the many diverse ways we all have of feeling real about ourselves and about our lives. The many forms and experiences of reality encompass both the personal and the shared or communal. The experience for each of us in our individual lives constitutes the most immediate and compelling form of reality. The reality or unreality of the innumerable aspects and elements of life for each of us is shaped and formed by our consciousness— what we are aware of and the emotional value we place on each element.

The reality of a child is radically different from that of a young adult, which is in turn different from that of an older adult or an elderly person. The reality of the child is not less real than that of the older adult; it is different. The reality of life is not comprehensive or universal. It comprises a sub-set of experiences validated in relationship to personal values, expectations and aspirations. The reality of life is individual, organic, and continually evolving.

The reality of a person born blind or deaf is going to be profoundly different from the reality of a person with sight or hearing. Again the difference in these disparate realities is not better or worse, just different. The reality of those in one culture is going to vary considerably from the reality of those in another culture. The reality of those from communities which are marginalized, disenfranchised or in a social minority is deeply divergent from the experienced reality of those who enjoy social dominance and empowerment. The circumstances of our individual life shapes the reality of each of us.

For a college professor what may feel most real might be the world of books and ideas, of writing and study, while for a farmer it is the life of the soil, of living things, of the cycles of the seasons and the changes of the weather. For an athlete or dancer the experiences and movements of their own body are most real; for a musician it is the music in their mind; for the mother or father it is their family.

The everyday life of the average person, going to work, taking care of home and family, the life of kids who go to school or play sports, and all of us who do each day what needs to be done, is what we most experience as reality.

That having been said, there are also many elements of reality we share in common. The realities of life are a blend of personal and shared, of objective and subjective. A short conversation among a group of individuals will very quickly demonstrate the differences between our separate experiences of reality as well as the shared connections, bonds, mutuality and commonalities.

The realities of lived experience are formed from consciousness. It is consciousness which makes things real to us. Although we share events of life in common with others, we each bring to those experiences a different set of previous experiences which have formed our distinctive perceptions of reality. The inner realities we each carry with us structure how we experience the external situations and circumstances of life. So although we may be sharing the same circumstance with others, we may each be perceiving a very different reality in the experience.

Humans have developed the capacity to conceive and experience ever greater degrees of conscious engagement with the outer and inner worlds we inhabit along with the other sentient beings with whom we share these worlds. As our consciousness expands so does our lived reality.

The reality of life can be limited and confined or expansive and open. We each follow our own proclivities and interests in shaping our personal and our shared realities. Our consciousness, like our bodies, our minds, and our emotions are always evolving and changing in response to the many different experiences and influences of our lives. Our desires and motivations direct and channel our consciousness to accept certain aspects of life as real and discard other elements as unreal.

Strong desires for security and certainty, for the definite and the irrefutable can restrict our consciousness of life, our experience of life. When we create realities that are exclusive and separative, when we see ourselves in contrast to others, in opposition to others, we limit and constrain the flow of our life.

As we are able to open our consciousness, expand it past our personal desires and needs to welcome more and more of the great unwieldy, ambiguous, adventure of the raw stuff of life, the reality of our life can become more and more inclusive, open, free. The experienced reality of life is enlarged, it becomes a wider place in which to live.

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