Reductio al substantia

“We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.”

~ (the) Talmud

Some days I look at this photo and see a lonely little red seed in danger of rolling over a cruel edge, to be crushed and lost forever. Some days I see a happy and magical little red seed, out on a stroll, resting for a moment and brightening up the scene.

So yes, reality.

There are two kinds of course. The one we experience, and the one others experience. When Buddha said “with our thoughts we make the world” (I wasn’t there…but it totally sounds like something Buddha would say), he was so right. We do create our experience of reality, thus the only reality we can personally know. Because the relevance of anything around us or inside us ultimately resides in the story we create. And where we are emotionally, intellectually and spiritually shapes our perspective, leading us to create a tragic, cheerful or in-between story.

We get all this. And yet it’s sometimes difficult to accept that anything we feel ultimately comes down to a decision. Yes, things happen, we witness them, and some of these things, like commercials and Hollywood movies, work really hard to manipulate us into grabbing a box of Kleenex or calling our doctor worried we may have some disorder for which there’s a new pill we should take. It’s also downright annoying that we’re actually responsible for how EVERYTHING ‘looks’ to us, since it’s much easier to avoid that responsibility especially when we’re upset, hurt, sad, disappointed…or whatever else.

If we become stuck, and have access to only one version of reality we experience because of our filter(s), we end up confirming not how things are, but how rotten we feel. So, we think all waiters these day in age are rude, yet it is we who are in a perpetual bad mood; we throw our hands up in the air because our partner’s being difficult, when in fact, we’re the ones who are perpetually irritated and grumpy; and, we feel despondent and overwhelmed by some lingering problems that seem entirely insurmountable, when in reality, we’re the ones focusing on our weaknesses and past failures instead of our strengths and successes.

Ok, so what if  the waiters are indeed rude bastards, and our partners are being deliberately difficult, and the problems we’re facing are truly horrible and huge?

Well, whenever I take photos, I don’t attempt to reproduce what is front of me, but capture what I read into it all: the story, which, after digital editing, might look nothing like the original scene. My thoughts in the moment I take an artsy photo are “what do I WANT to feel and create here…what is it that I want or need to see”. The answer becomes the reality.

Since every experience and detail of our reality at any given time is reduced to an essential intention, thus choice on our part, what we decide we ultimately want to experience and create not only reflects our current state of mind/heart, but also allows us to question that state. So we do have the chance to ponder as we prepare to direct our experience of what surrounds us in the direction of a  Kodak moment, or that of a dark void.

If we want to create something positive, and upon questioning where we are, we discover we’re in a bad emotional and mental state, regardless of what we face outside ourselves, we know we’re not going to experience anything positive unless WE change. And then if we do change, even if the waiter is indeed rude, our partner difficult, and our problems rather overwhelming, we’ll still experience them in a positive way. Our reality will be humorous, and even empowering, as we will surely attempt to make the waiter laugh, help our partner relax, and approach our problems with confidence, eager for the challenge and the potential to experiment and learn.

On the other hand, if we do not want to experience and create something positive, and only to confirm our distress and pessimism, we are guaranteed to find and create that kind of confirmation everywhere we look. “Look and ye shall find” indeed.

And so that is the essence…the substance: the only reality is the one we ultimately choose. I guess we might as well choose wisely if we are privileged with so much control.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. ak says:

    “A man is not what he thinks he is, but what he thinks, he is!”


  2. Hhhmmm…this sound extremely familiar ;-)…and I LOVE it! Creating the positive in our lives is something that we should (and can) do on a regular basis. We don’t need a reason other than that we just plain want to be happy! Why would, or should, we live a dreary, drab, negative, and emotionally draining life? We absolutely should not! Changing the negative to a positive, no matter the situation, will make us healthier and happier people. In turn, we will also either change the lives of those around us for the better, or they will leave because they don’t want to be happy, for whatever reason.

    Being unafraid of failure, leaving our past mistakes in the past, and embracing change will lead to a better person. Our world is created because of change. Why should we fight it? And, why should we linger in our past failures when they are in the past? We shouldn’t! Move forward, love bigger, live harder, experience more, and embrace all that there is to embrace.


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