Friday, September 10, 2010

What is your perception of reality?

The other night I was listening to one of my favorite radio programs when the dj had a discussion with listeners about reality. The consensus from one listener was that reality is a very subjective and relative state of perception. I am beginning to think that my whole life is some sort of experiment in this. It can be really disheartening and challenging to always be in the minority about pretty much all aspects of your lifestyle from parenting to nutrition to health to spirituality to well, just about everything. Then there are those who believe that this must be some intentional sort of thing to be different, to just want to be contrary, weird, or not like everyone else. Sure, I think we all go through something like that in our teen years when we are trying to carve out our own identity. However, I can honestly say that I have spent many days wishing that I was like everyone else, that I could just get my college degree, put my kids in daycare so I could keep working to buy that brand new house, car, and all of the new toys/gadgets on the market. Man, I would sure have a lot more friends that way. If only I could believe that wealth and success and getting some high five/backslaps were the way to bliss how much easier life would be. There have been some times where I experimented with even trying to look like everybody else so that maybe I wouldn't draw attention or that people would think I was like them and give me a chance before finding out how crazy I was. Of course that never lasted long either.

So I look out the window. I see my kids playing with their new friends. All I see in the background is desert grass and mountains. They all have smiles on their faces. It is all good. Maybe this generation will be different. Maybe they will be able to find their own true happiness without being influenced by what they just blindly think they have to do to survive in this world because it is what they see on tv or some other fear based information forced upon them.

Since Riki has started his job he is constantly asked what in the heck he is doing as a server with his experience and qualifications in engineering. Aside from the rather obvious fact that he would be doing just that if he had not tried for nearly two years already to get another job in his field, I want to ask does it really matter? Does it make him less of a person? Not successful enough? Not rich enough? Not cool enough? Not responsible enough? I'm sure I could go on and on. There are times when I wonder if we are really just one of the most unlucky families in terms of being hit hard by the recession. I really don't personally know one other person whose field of expertise was nearly wiped out by all of this leaving them at ground zero. So naturally people tend to think it is your fault, that you did something wrong because it hasn't happened to them and they must be doing everything right, right?

So are we really all that unlucky? How relative is the experience of reality? I ask because as I sit here in the peace and quiet watching how happy the kids are, thinking about how healing this place is....I don't know if we are unlucky at all. Maybe we are lucky in all actuality.....lucky that a layoff was able to jolt us into doing things we might never had done otherwise. At the same time I know so many people who would be miserable where we are right now.....going from middle class to falling on the poverty level scale. How shameful. How awful. Living in a small guest house , only having one car, no more 401K. I could go on and on. Nothing is perfect. I have plenty of days when I wonder if we are on the right path, if I haven't completely screwed up my life and if I won't have lots of regrets to come. That is what unites us as humanity because no matter what our station in life is, we all have this suffering, these worries. This is normal.

Really, does it all matter that much? Should anything matter more than the happiness of children and being able to slow down and watch the sunset over the mountains.....regardless of what assets or wealth you have amassed?

Yes, indeed we live in another state of reality perception because as many times as I turn the situation on its sides I can't see anything inherently bad about it. We have adequate shelter, nutritious food, plenty of time for play and being creative. What more do we all really need in this world? This is my nature of reality and I'm getting pretty confident with it in recent years. I see so many people out there striving to just have a little bit more....if I can just get another degree with a better job, maybe I will be happier. If I just save up long enough maybe I can have the perfect house. All of my woes will be over. If I can scrimp and save every dime until retirement I will spend the rest of my life completely content. It is an illusion. If you can't find a way to be happy now you won't be happy then and the bottom line is that human beings will never be happy 100% of the time no matter what....and as for being a good person....those who are at the top of my list are those who didn't seek occupations or success...they devoted their lives to helping others instead.

Here's to hoping that our future generations will realize that happiness doesn't lie in astronomical college/mortgage debt or doing everything your family told you to do just because it is what they believed was the right thing. It is time to forge a new path, one that acknowledges creativity and service and charity as bringing one closer to their divine path more than just driving to church once a week in fancy clothes and new cars. A reality where people are respected for more than a career path. Maybe one day.


Mouse said...

With the exception of the traveling you guys have done, the rest of your post totally resonates with me in a big way. Unfortunately we're another family who got hit by the recession in a BIG WAY- my husband's fields of expertise are construction & computers/web design/graphics. Double whammy in the "we're not hiring in your field due to the economy" category!!
Please tell Riki not to feel bad about his job.. he is doing whatever he can do to support his family, and that's totally admirable. If anyone thinks he's not cool enough or successful enough then they're probably too shallow to get you guys anyway. My husband is currently taking odd jobs- day labor and whatever comes his way... so I understand how that feels.
I sort of feel 'lucky' in the respect that we really don't feel like we've "lost much" due to the economy.. its not like our lifestyle is any different than it was before because we've always sort of scraped by with the occasional burst of 'extra' to keep us moving forward. Some people may look down on it but I think its really awesome that my family thinks that stuff other people take for granted, like store bought pizza is something to be excited over!
Personally.. I like your version of reality!

Little House On Wheels said...

Your post means a lot to me. Thanks for sharing. The funny thing is that even when we had more money we still lived paycheck to paycheck to pay for higher rent and more expenses. It all seems like a big game sometimes, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post. You are never alone with these feelings; in fact, many days I drudge through my 9 to 5 I wish I was in your shoes. Don't worry about other people's thoughts or what you think they think about you - it's usually not what you think anyway, and if it is, it's that those people don't think beyond their habitual thoughts. They just don't know any better, they intend no harm. One day they may wake up to the your reality themselves, and the world will be a little better off. Peace - SD

Family of Movers said...

You are inspiring! thanks for writing my thought down. I get so sick of hearing about what others think is responsible or Their reality! We are making the best of a bad economy and it may take years to get back on track. I do not think that you need to be living the 9 to 5 just to get more crap that will ultimatly consume your life with more to do lists than you care to have.

Breka said...

I've been following links across the internet this morning, and I'm no longer sure how I ended up here. But thank you for this very encouraging post. I just graduated from college, and am working as a residential volunteer – which means a stipend and housing and that's it. To me, it's more than enough. To others, it's confusing. One day, they tell me, I'll get a 'life' or a 'real job' but I'm pretty sure I already them. Redefining success is important to me, and sometimes I get tired of feeling like it's a fight. So thank you for the encouragement, the reminder that there are others feeling the same way. And thank you for giving your kids such a great example.