What Is Real Anyway?

by Esperanza
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reality books

I have had a nagging thought lately, not in an unpleasant way, but more as of a persistent matter that I’m compelled to write about. It has popped out while I’ve contemplated people’s shares on social media. It has crept in when I have contemplated issues on mental health from people close at hand, loved ones, the media in general, and at times my own life. I thought about it when I worked with disabled people with varying diagnoses. I have thought about it when I have learned the stories, the biographies of those now deemed “Geniuses”. I have thought about it as I read fantastical fiction stories and considered other realms, other worlds. I have thought about it observing science in many ways. I have considered it while performing experiments with my students in the classroom. I have thought again and again about it as I studied religion, metaphysics, philosophies, and spirituality. I thought about it sitting and listening in temples, churches, halls, centers, among groups of  “conscious” people, charismatic, and profound teachers that have influenced even changed the lives of many, including myself. I pondered it over and over while gazing at stars from mountain tops, sitting on the shores of oceans, kicking back by dwindling campfires, walking among the throngs of crowded cites. I shared it with my children while on midsummer night’s walks and while hiking immersed in the wilderness, stupefied by nature. Again, it came into play as I worked within the relationships of my life, as a partner, spouse, parent, colleague, teacher, artist, and the one I find in the stillness and center of my own Being.

I remembered the question while standing in front of an exhibit, an art piece, a performance, a gift given to the audience at hand. I remembered the question deeply within me as I read classic children’s books to my children and with all the children I have had the honor of sharing some life with. I remembered the question as I played with children and imagined wonderful adventures. I remembered as I imagined my dreams made manifest. The question has kept coming, “What is real?” I believe this question is one of great importance in the journey of life, more so than a defined answer. 

Illustrator: Sylvia Thomas

Much too often I have attempted to explain, justify, judge, and qualify my experience. Over time, I also, often, sensed another possibility was within my reach. From some place within, with the same pureness of my learned response to my kindergartners when asked those mystifying questions of why and how come, I could hear myself think, “I wonder…”. Those two words left the door wide open to perceive beyond our universe, universes, realities, existence in incomprehensible ways. However, this was an incredible undertaking for it would ultimately mean I would have come to challenge realities and then possibly defy them as well. I had become accustomed in liking to comprehend concepts, thinking myself as knowledgeable, which made it even more challenging.

Many moments in life have come and gone, filled with ideas and wonder, some fleeting, some, now, becoming more and more integrated into my sense of Being. In my desire to truly understand beyond my mind, I have been humbled by life and have come into greater acceptance. Yet, my understanding doesn’t fit into a framework that my mere intellect can contain. I am recognizing places in me that I am steadily uncovering and loving more all the time which leads me back to my original question, “What is real?”

Velveteen Rabbit by: Margery Williams Illustrated by: William Nicholson

One analogy that I can closely relate to is what the Skin Horse revealed to the Velveteen Rabbit, in that classic story. The addition, for me, would be that Life has been the “child” who has loved me. Yet, I am the one living this life of mine and therefore, I am Life as well. It seems that I am not only Life, the child, and the rabbit all in one; I have come to feel the Presence of this tremendous Love that has held my life most caring. It is the same Presence that always has known magnificence in each of my intentions, imagined endeavors, and dreams manifesting. It is the same Presence that defies definition and remains incomprehensible to date. It is the same Presence that has presented infinite realities. It is the same Presence that makes me Wonder and Be in this moment with the greatest gratitude and devotional Love. It is the Presence, I Am, that keeps revealing more unto my existence, the joy for Being In Life, and the closest I have come to knowing… “Real”.

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