“What we believe to be real is real in its consequences” (a variation on the Thomas theorem, a basic social science construct, formulated by sociologist W.I. Thomas in 1928). If I had a dollar for every time I discussed this maxim with my social science students, I could take a very nice vacation.
Reality is a complex thing. For human beings, there may be no such thing as objective reality. Now, I’m not a philosopher, just a person with a keen interest in human psycho-social development, so I’m not going to attempt to make a philosophical argument about this. I’m simply considering some things I’ve been thinking about in light this of blog’s theme of leveraging obstacles to achieve balance. I remember someone wiser than I trying to explain to me, “Leigh, there is no such thing as Truth, only the truth of your experience.” I didn’t get it at the time, but eventually I understood that while, of course, there is a real world out there, I need to always hold some skepticism towards my perception of it. Scientists (among others) try hard to find it, but no matter how hard we try, all of our observations come to us through filters. Some of those filters are physical: light bouncing around a particular way in a particular moment (Is my house really green or gray?), how our brains are functioning at the moment of perception, etc. Some of the filters are psychological: past memories, current belief structures, and so on.
Regardless of whether what we believe is objectively correct or not, our belief will inevitably guide our behavior, and how we behave will always result in consequences, intended or otherwise. I know that some of the beliefs I held in my young adult period had some consequences for people who I love that I now wish could have been avoided. With Maya Angelou, I tell myself, “We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.” Still, knowing that I have been the cause of painful experiences gives me pause. And since I have never been a very adventurous or courageous person – I tend to seek security over stimulus – adding additional pause to my natural caution may not always be the best thing for the pursuit of balance and wholeness. And I’ve been thinking about that this week.
At age 50, I did have a midlife reflection period – not a full-blown crisis, but a spell of reflection and reckoning, out of which I emerged with some changes of attitude and behavior. But right after Valentine’s Day this year I faced the first significant health challenge of my life, and while for the time being all seems to be very well and under control, I am experiencing some more significant shifts in how I view the world and whatever time I have left in it.
Three months ago I set myself some goals for the coming year, and I have made a good beginning towards achieving them. But when I saw this wonderful photo last week, my goal set began to expand. And today I say: I am going to ride a unicorn! I’ve loved the fae world since I was a little girl, and I’ve often stood on the edge of it, watching with awe and delight. Now I’ve realized that time is slipping away, and if I’m ever going to step over the threshold, it has to be now. So, this morning’s blog is the first slipping of a toe over the line. There will be a good bit of adventuring ahead before I can ride, but the journey begins now!
(This photo was copied from my Facebook wall, from a “share” by a friend, that showed it as coming from a “like” by the Spirit Science community organization Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/thespiritscience. I have not been able to ascertain the original of the photo. If anyone can help me find the originator so that I can give a correct attribution, that would be fabulous!)