Wednesday, February 5, 2014
For each of us alive today, we have a world within us, as well as a world without. One might define our interior world as being made up of our physiological self...organs and life systems that allow every living creature to be alive. In addition to this, humans, especially, reach another level of within, as our minds allow us to consciously think. Our conscience allows thoughts and ideas to bounce around "inside" of our heads. There are those who get so far lost inside of their heads that they lose touch with the outside world. There are times when I feel that way. I have had times throughout my life where my waking consciousness so influenced my "within", causing my dreams to manifest those thoughts in such a real way, that upon waking, I cannot tell if what "happened" was within me or without me. My paternal Grandparents were both born prior to 1920. My grandfather was born in 1905 and my grandmother in 1916. My grandmother is about to celebrate her 98th birthday! Unfortunately, over the last year, she suffered several strokes...but up until then, she continued to live by herself, in her own home, taking care of herself (with the help of my Aunt & parents, when needed). Once the strokes started, her mind started to slip. It seems that there are moments of complete clarity, mixed with moments of accusations based on "imagined" (but real to her) concerns. Firstly, I cannot imagine what it must be like to be near 100 years old. Second, I most certainly cannot imagine what it must be like for her to live in a world, by and large, that she cannot relate to. After all, she was born before computers and cell phones, before television sets were de rigueur for every household that could afford one, even before electricity and plumbing infrastructure was the norm. The world we live in today is so greatly different than the one she grew up in and yet, she exists in this place where her without cannot be more different than her within. I have been doing a lot of thinking about this juxtaposition and what it must be like to look for ways to relate. I suppose that is why, as we grow old, many of us look for the familiar and surround ourselves with that. I have also thought a lot about what it is like for those who suffer Alzheimer's or other degenerative brain disorders. It really calls to question how do we define reality? Is reality within us or without us or, maybe, somewhere in between? Should reality be defined for us if our brain has degenerated enough not to be able to "comprehend" what is without? Or perhaps, what is within is what really matters when you reach that point. There is a saying: "You can make your own reality". On the surface, this seems like a very simple comment and offers positive reinforcement, but when I think on it, there are a lot of doors that open onto questions that open onto other questions and I am off, spinning. What is reality? For that matter, and the ultimate question in my mind, why the need to define?