I was watching a documentary series about near-death experiences this week. It’s a subject that…
“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” — John Lennon
I’ve always loved this quote as an invitation to vision and new possibility. It suggests that reality needn’t be just a hard nut to crack, a bitter pill to swallow, a stone-cold fortress of facts. It can be, rather, an opening for our dreams. Perhaps we could even say that our creative imagination isn’t merely an allowable interpretation, but is in truth an essential component of reality. We’re always imagining something, and it’s clear to most of us that to some extent at least, life is what we’re making it.
So let’s just love the world back into wholeness by imagining joy, beauty, peace, and plenty for everyone, for heaven’s sake! Right? Done. Snap. Problems solved.
But then just when I think I’ve figured it all out and healed a sea of troubles, I am reminded that I’m not the only one imagining here.
Lots of people have lots of different ideas about what a workable world might look like. What appears obvious to me isn’t necessarily a given for another. Some people believe that the earth is flat, for Pete’s sake. So it might be a bit premature for any of us to think that utopia is simply a matter of imagining hard enough, or affirming loud enough, or praying strong enough. Reality not being cut and dried can work in a lot of different ways, and often it doesn’t go how I think it ought to.
Truth is, reality is stupefyingly complicated. We’ve got our own subjective reality, our own unique take on things, within which we do have an amazing amount of creative latitude. Terrific! But also, there are objective, factual realities which need to be accounted for and dealt with honestly if we’re ever going to get anything done. We live with ever-changing circumstantial realities that often leave a lot to be desired. At the same time, we may hold idealized realities with which we hope to transcend these changeable conditions.
We’ve got seven billion different human perspectives on the planet right now, and most of us think we know what’s real, and what’s really real, and whether or not those things line up.
More and more, it seems to me that Reality (capital-R meta-Realty) is such an unknowable tangled mess that it’s almost pointless to try to understand it. And it can be stifling, limiting, and oppressive to presume to define it — for each other, certainly, but even for ourselves.
Where it gets interesting, though — where reality gets creative and exciting — where belief, faith, perspective, and participation become workable — is in the realm of SHARED REALITY.
Where does your experience of the world connect with mine? Where do our individual hopes and fears and dreams touch something in each others’ hearts? How can we lean together into dazzling new possibilities, while still honoring the circumstances that have challenged, informed, and shaped us?
I believe that it is possible for us to actualize our beautiful aspirations and to create together a world that works for everyone. And I believe that we do this by inclusion — including ourselves, each other, and everyone. Walt Disney said, “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
It takes each other. It takes all of us. I can’t wait to see you this Sunday. XO, Drew
© 2018 Drew Groves