Reality

A short blog entry tonight, reflecting on life in general.

Yesterday morning my two sons (8 and 5) were bored and we decided to get on our mud boots and take a hike.  It was glorious!   Our backyard opens right into the woods and trails leading to a river (which by mid-summer becomes more like a creek).   Most of the trails are still covered with snow, but the melting streams of water heading down to the river, the animal tracks, and my sons’ joy in exploring nature was exhilarating.   We were out nearly two hours before trekking back home.

I’ve also been reading Brian Greene’s new book The Hidden Reality.  You can find a good review by clicking here. The book is about the possibility of multiple universes (or a “multiverse,”) which is a very active field in theoretical physics.   It further removes humans from the center of reality, but also poses some paradoxes and quandries that I find thoroughly enjoyable.  It also puts life in context — the political and personal dramas of the day are real, but ultimately part of something far greater.

My own favorite is the idea of the holographic multiverse.   To be honest, I like it because it fits my own philosophy on the nature of reality almost like a glove.  It has parallels with Plato’s allegory of the cave, and empiricist philosophers like Bishop Berkeley (who had a Star Trek character named after him).   Given the apparent ‘nothingness’ of reality once you dig down deep into subatomic particles, and the paradoxes and apparent contradictions of quantum physics, this kind of theory has the potential to clear that up.   Reality’s paradoxes and contradictions come from the fact we take the experience of reality, which is an illusion interpreted by our senses, as being the nature of reality.

I could speculate more on what this might mean (and will likely do so in future blog entries), but at base it convinces me that it is too easy to get caught up in the “stuff” of the world or the “common sense” of the culture we are born into.  We can get hypnotized to follow a myriad of suggestions thrown our way about what the world is, what we ought to do, what is normal, and what life is all about.   Maybe the key in life is to look for what has meaning beyond the external stuff of the world.   Connections with people, concern for the emotional state of others, putting spirit and soul ahead of power and goals.

And somehow, on a warm spring day as the snow melts, kids laugh and we witness nature shifting to a new season, I can’t help but think that despite all the insanity, pain and hatred in the world, we can enjoy a very beautiful and meaningful existence.

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  1. #1 by easylifestyles on April 11, 2011 - 05:35

    Another great post. Thanks for sharing this. Spending time with my family is something that truly makes me happy in life. I enjoy reading your blog very much.

    Fun Family Activity Ideas

  2. #2 by modestypress on April 11, 2011 - 12:28

    I agree and disagree. I just spent time with family and had a wonderful time. My life has gone much better than I ever expected it would.

    However, one can appreciate this only by being determined to ignore all the suffering and misery in the world. Many people nowadays devote themselves to charity and kindness, and that is excellent, but it does not solve the problems of the existential dilemma.

    There are may dense works on existentialism by writers such as Sartre, Camus, Becker, and so on, but folk wisdom sums it up pungently enough: “Life is a bitch; then you die.”

    If you regard this comment as a downer and too negative for such a pleasant, optimistic post, you certainly may delete it.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on April 12, 2011 - 15:05

      I don’t know — I don’t ignore the suffering and misery in the world, it comes up in the courses I teach, including on co-taught with an Early Childhood Ed professor on “Children and War.” In fact, I make it a point to try to show young American students how things are in different parts of the world, and how relatively good we have it here. Yet at the same time, there is no reason to fixate on it. Most of that is beyond our ability to change — and one can make the most of one’s own life and context. I find that the perspective of learning about misery makes it much easier for me not to be bothered by my problems — they are really minor by comparison. Ultimately I can’t control all of that, but I can take responsibility for my own life and happiness.

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