Who gets to say?

September 7, 2008

Observing different realities is what I’ve been doing a lot lately. As I’m thinking about my book, working on what it is I want to say exactly, thinking through all my ideas and concepts, it seems that everything comes down to knowing who we are? Another way to say the same thing is: knowing what reality we are creating? What we are doing, how we act, what we want, I believe is all a result of who we believe we are and what we believe reality is like. I know what Sarah Palin’s reality is like, for example. She expressed it in her acceptance speech. She said: “Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay (…) Al-Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America (…) This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn’t just need an organizer.” What a terrible place to live in, I thought as I listened to her speech. What a scary, dangerous space the reality must be if this is how she sees it. Or another one I observed recently: the reality of an american middle class as portrayed by “Beverly Hills 90210” TV show. I loved this show when it was first aired. I lived in Poland then and the show was like a vision from a wonderful, nonexistent heaven reality somewhere on the other side of the world. I found it recently online and started watching the very first season. The more I watched it the more … squished I felt, flattened. I had a feeling of a life getting mashed into a serviceable portions, being served as pills or a finger-food: a little bit of this problem, a little bit of that one. Nothing to prominent, nothing to significant. What a take on reality, I thought. So very simple, so very black and white. Right is right, wrong is wrong, obvious, clear, manageable, under control. If a bit suffocating. But simple. Society has a very clear ideas about what constitutes a “good life”. The rules of society’s version of reality, at least the one surrounding me at the moment, revolve around success, fame, money. The more you can get of those the happier you’ll be – this is how reality is. According to economy, according to capitalism, according to … well, most people. My husband and I stumbled upon an idea, one of those “taking over the world and become sickly rich” kind of ideas. It may work, it may not, we may be rich, or not. Wo knows. I was lying in bed one night, falling asleep, and thinking about how would it be if it did work, if we became millionaires over night. I imagined all the things I would do, things I would get. The more I thought about it the more tight, constricted I felt. It became quite painful eventually and so I asked myself: who will I be when I’m a millionaire? Will my life really change? No, I realized. My life will not change, because I will still be me. As soon as I came back to myself, snapped out of trying to fit myself inside of reality agreed upon and decided by someone else, I felt free, present, complete, myself. In this moment it became clear to me that nothing from outside of me can define, organize or change my life. It became clear to me that it doesn’t matter who says reality is like what, doesn’t matter how many people agree on it. It doesn’t matter what other people consider important and it doesn’t matter whether I do it or get it. It doesn’t matter if reality is commonly considered dangerous and scary or safe and simple. Doesn’t matter whether I am rich and successful or not. None of it has any real effect on my life, because my life is created by me. Only me. My life is organized as an expression of who I am, and I don’t change because a situation changes. I am who I am. I always was who I am. Before I was born I was me, after this body dies I will still be me. The only person who gets to say what the reality is like to me – is me. Because it is my life.

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