Sometimes, reality isn’t so great. It isn’t everything. We want more. The world is a mess and getting messier still. Go to a zoo. You’ll see. Is it any wonder people seek escapes?
Reality is not, as they say, “a day at the beach.” Unless it is, and you do spend a day at the beach in which case the beach is probably polluted or littered with irritated egomaniacs getting sand in everything.
As Tony Soprano would say, “Reality? Fuhgeddaboudit!” But Tony didn’t know about the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus and his forty principle doctrines. Then again, even if a fictionalized TV gangster like Tony did read Epicurus, he wouldn’t get it. He’s too busy being Tony. Tony follows a script (like a lot of people).
Reality is as we think it to be and people resist what they most need. We can read something smart, say, “Good one!” then go and do what we know shouldn’t be done.
To get what Epicurus said, go into a garden (real or imagined). Listen to the music of sound and look around like a child would.
Take a deep breath and sit calm and content without concern for those who would do you harm.
What most people don’t know – as they go around in a daze behind their wind-shield eyes – is that with a slight shift in attention, reality changes from the way we think it to be.
In not doing we see what’s there. We hear what’s heard. We enjoy without expectation or defense mechanism like David Puddy in Seinfeld.
Puddy is content to stare at the back of a seat. Such not-doing drives busy people crazy, but in not-doing anything you can enter a dimension of boredom beyond comprehension where everything is as it could be.
Mental chatter is like a shadow that is, as Alexander sang of it in Truth (2011), “And everyday it’s trying to trick me into doing battle.” But the shadow battle is over when the ego con is revealed.
We go naturally good like the guy in the elevator scene in the movie Revolver (2005) who realizes that his fear is the result of lies he’s been telling himself.
In a zone of enjoyment, you can present your face to the world and say, “This is my face.”
You can be in chaos, in the dreariest or most beautiful place and it won’t matter. You’re impervious. The world is the way it is because it couldn’t be any other way. If the world could be different, it would.
We all do the best we can. When the best we can isn’t good, it’s because we couldn’t do better. If we could, we would. Reality is revealed by what we do. Potential is only imagined. When someone does something stupid, selfish, cruel or rude, they did what they did because they thought they should.
Epicurus (341-270 BC) said, “It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honourably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honourably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the man is not able to live wisely, though he lives honourably and justly, it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life” (Principle Doctrines).
It’s like a three-legged stool: to live pleasantly – live honourably, wisely and justly; to live wisely – live honourably, pleasantly and justly.
As the world gets shaped in our image, we hardly notice its destruction. We have our hobbies, electronics, addictions and jobs. Some of us have self-control and those who don’t sometimes die a slow death clutching a sign in search of someone to help us from ourselves.
Those who say, “What the hell!” can (figuratively speaking), release their egotistical beast to destroy its host (and anything else that’s vulnerable).
A person is the product of thought, heredity and capacity mixed with language and culture. (Love and spirit get lost when attention is on a bottom line.)
Language and culture gave us great things like law, science, ethics and philosophy, but language and culture can also make us victims. The key is in you as an individual.
Novelist Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) said, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted” (Brave New World).
He also wrote, “There are quiet places also in the mind’, he said meditatively. ‘But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately — to put a stop to the quietness. …” (Antic Hay, 1923).
A trick to profound enjoyment (and happiness) is to find quiet places in your mind. From there you can see and hear without taking things for granted. Because heaven is here.
And heaven is now.