29 December 2014

Searching for Reality

Can reality ever be found except by living it and searching for the truth?

When I began my travels, many years ago, I wanted to know what the world was really like.  Of course, I had read about the world in books.  I had heard about it in school.  I had seen and heard different worlds through films and on television.

The books I preferred to read were mostly about fact rather than fiction.  I was not particularly interested in dolls or imaginary worlds.  I was interested in the reality of the wider world.

When I was a child, my family appeared to live differently from other families.  My parents seemed to me to be different from the parents of other children.  My childhood did not seem to me to be like the childhoods of other children.

Often, I did not feel as if other children had an affinity towards me.  My reality was that I had few true friends, no matter how hard I tried to be friendly. 

I did not know why it was so difficult for me to feel accepted for who I was.  My reality was that for other people to like me, I was meant to fit in with their ideas of reality rather than my own.  Many of those ideas were in conflict with each other, and with my own ideas of reality.  That is a social reality I have always experienced!

For me, there are many types of travel, some of which are more inward looking and some of which are more outward looking.  When searching for reality, inner travel is about becoming more aware of ourselves, others and the world around us, often through study and reflection.   Outward travel can have many different purposes, although most of them are probably hedonistic for one reason or another.

I like to make journeys to see how my inner travels, in the world as I imagine it, may match the reality of my perceptions and first-hand experiences in the wider world.  As I grow older, my reasons for doing so have changed.  In more recent years, I like to have a stronger sense of personal purpose in my travels than the vague curiosity of earlier years.

In your life, is searching for reality related to searching for meaning of some sort?  As a child, I had visited only a few places with my parents.  We had holidays in the same place every summer, often with the same people.  I was not sure if that meant that the lives of other people where more real than my own.  In my later travels, I found that most people live very similar lives in many routine respects, regardless of their wealth or lack of it.

You may be the sort of person who enjoys singing, dancing and travelling, and perhaps even combine those activities in a professional or amateur capacity. I have seen dances and heard songs in many parts of the world.  I also now know that most people travel only when they feel the need to do so for economic or cultural reasons.

It seems to me that participating in various cultural activities is a way that many people search for meaning.  They may even search for reality through culture and nature.  It is only when escaping violence or natural disaster that travel takes on a different meaning for people.

I know I am very glad I can search for information through the internet, but that I do not find reality there.  There is nothing real about life lived through any sort of screen, although many people appear to live much of their lives that way. 

In my late teens and early 20s, I worked in London, as you may already know.  One of my office jobs involved television documentaries about the early days of cinema and the beginnings of Hollywood.  I had already worked with the makers of documentaries about more recent world events, many of which were often in the news.  I had also travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and South America by my mid 20s. 

Yet travels can seem less of a reality at times than the daily journey to the office.  Routines can provide more sense of reality and continuity in life than the seemingly endless experiences of newness.  Eating and sleeping are two familiar realities, at least when feeling reasonably well. 

There is also the routine of housework to consider as the basis of reality, especially when the politics of an unfair burden of that routine is considered.  If you tend to do most of the routine jobs in a household or office, it could be the case that you have a greater sense of reality than those who do fewer of them!

Is certainty or uncertainty the basis of your usual reality?  Is certainty or uncertainty the basis of your travels?  If you are interested in science, how does your interest relate to your search for reality?

I find that reflecting on my own and other people's experiences of times and places is useful when planning ahead, though none of us yet know the reality of our own future, even with the assistance of science and the internet.

As I currently live in Australia, I often reflect upon the likelihood of inconveniences and tragedies such as drought, bushfires and floods when making travel plans.  It is unfortunate that many people appear to be inadequately prepared for such eventualities, even if they live in regions prone to them. 

The unpleasant reality, all around the world at present, is that the vast majority of people are too poor to move to somewhere safer and/or too ignorant to know how to avoid disasters.  The journey towards adequate wealth and adequate information is a necessary one for all people, if they are to survive and thrive in another year.  The reality is that the political will and ability to assist that process is lacking.

The continual journey towards more justice and fairness in the world is one I hope millions of people will share with me during 2015.  It will hopefully be a joyful journey, where successful planning will turn into a pleasant reality for everyone wishing to participate.