Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Present Past

While driving to the store the other day the traffic was moderate to heavy and my mood was in a direct relationship to the congestion.  There was no particular reason for having a foul temperament but when the lady (sorry I always assume a female driver when confronted with a vehicular situation) stopped for no apparent reason, no blinker, no reason, nothing as I perceived prevented her from moving on, so I honked my horn, not once but three insistent blasts.   It was then that I saw the baby carriage and the person pushing that same carriage with two straggling children in her wake.

I have often considered myself to be a patient person, I teach special education, therefor I am imbued with an almost godlike tolerance, or so I keep telling myself.  I wish I could take those impertinent and yes I’ll admit it, Rude actions back but what is done is done and the lessons learned will hopefully instill in me a desire to improve.

My perception of what was going on was clearly lacking in facts and my actions based on my perceptions caused a reaction that was unfortunate and had I the facts I would assuredly have acted more appropriately.   The question is how often do we act without knowing the facts or act based on incorrect perceptions or assumptions?

The measurement of reality often presupposes a confirmation of physical senses, a touch, a sound, sight or taste that brings a supposed understanding to an observation.  That supposed reality is really nothing more than a hypothesis based on previous experiences and events that brings the mind to a conclusive circle or mindset reality.  My truth at the time of the honking incident was that a jerk was driving and decided to simply stop, not ever considering the issues of why, mainly due to my level of emotional instability I was unable or unwilling to consider those obvious unseen circumstances that would have warranted the van to stop as it did.

Imagine a person looking at his reflection in a mirror.  That experience is noted differently when the commonality of the event has previously been burned into a mental pattern of familiarity, in other words we’re used to seeing what we see.  For the person who has never seen his (or her, don’t want to be considered sexist) reflection the experience is often very emotional and enlightening, changing previous perception of reality at the very instant of that initial view.

There are other concerns in relation to a simple mirror reflection.  The quality of the mirror (ever been to a fun house?) the eye sight of the person looking, and even more subjective but important is the mental state of the person looking, like those with anorexia, who only see an engorged personification of themselves, a far cry from the skewed reality of what most of us see.

It’s not just our sight that can be deceived it’s also our hearing; it carries with it a profound level of subjectivity.  Our own voices are difficult to ascertain when played back so that we hear as others hear us.  Our own voices are strange and foreign.  Added to this are inconsistencies in individual ability and acuity, the mental state of the person hearing and even the acoustics, compounding the supposed reality of what we hear and further compromising the substantive reality of what was said, or the  sound emitted.  

Tactile expression, internal feelings and emotional responses are other areas of discord in relation to what is real.  The question of what is real is really nothing more than a perceived notion within a specific space and time moment.  A second more or less would or could change that perception and change the level of reality for ever.  A different position of the head or the result of ambient light or shadow, an associated smell and the past perceptions play a significant role determining a present “truth”.

Truth then is nothing more than individual expression based on questionable senses and is for all intense and purposes a fleeting, non-quantifiable manifestation of heresy and supposition, truth according to our senses and our ability to perceive is opinion, nothing less.

Keep in mind that all we observe, through all our senses has happened past tense, nothing is perceived in the immediate now.  To explain, let’s consider the mind and body in terms of an electrical system, even though you flip the switch to turn on a light there is a slight delay, ever so slight but a delay nonetheless instituting an historical perspective when the light reaches the eyes and the eyes tell the brain that the light is on.  It may seem instantaneous but there really isn’t any such thing.

What we hear spoken has to travel toward our ears and then travel toward our brain for it to register as a sound, the time delay places all hearing, touch, sight, etc…in the realm of the past and with that delay the problem associated with historical perspectives comes into play.  Just like historians have to fill in needed gaps to make sense of past events so our brains fill in gaps not heard, not understood or not available in order to create a cogent and rational meaning to what was perceived. 

This time dilation maybe in the milliseconds but that delay exposes the senses to the gaps that need to be filled and that’s what our minds do best.  We honk when all we see is a van stopping without reason.  We assume without understanding the situation, we indict before we have the evidence to support a verdict and we judge based on pre-conceived notions that have nothing to do with “reality or truth”.

What makes matters worse is the media creating blatant untruths in order to sell more products, governments spinning events in order to sustain a faulty perception and ourselves for letting external influences determine what truth is, leaving us vulnerable to the hype and hucksters that pervade our uncertain lives.

Seeking the “truth” should be our aim and purpose of life.  Using Science and Religion, using our senses and our faith, relying upon the findings and our feelings, that is how we find the truth and with that truth we will be free.