Once we have successfully overcome the apathy that may perhaps take us over at any time, we can concentrate more fully on going back to the real world, and our development in it. But what is this real world exactly?? Is it simply a continuation of what we have within our heads?? Or is it something which exists outside of us, independently of whether we are aware of it, or participate in it?? And why do we differentiate between the real world and vacations, which are seen as a break from reality?? These are all the kind of questions which will be shortly looked at in what follows.
First of all, this idea of reality could simply represent everything that happens outside our heads, whether it be the physical world surrounding us, or interactions we have with others. Basically, everything which is not exclusively subjective anymore. Even though we could admit that a conversation held privately between two people, only ever exists as being witnessed by those two subjects, their communication crossed through the objective reality between their individual subjectivities, thus allowing it to be partly within the objective reality. It is so because bystanders could have heard it, which contrasts with whatever might be going on in our heads, since we are inevitable the only person aware of our own thoughts. Now this leaves us at being subjects wandering in a physical reality, which would exist outside of us being aware of it, except that we wouldn’t know about it, unless we were experiencing it. It is so, because the death or life of someone does not change the state of reality, hence our own death or life will not change it either. If we take that as being true, reality would then be our experience of the physical world, which encompasses pretty much any experience we could ever have. This does not mean that our thoughts aren’t real, only that we will forever be the only ones aware of them, hence they are only real for us, subjectively.
Reality can also be seen as social reality, which is different from the physical reality I have talked above because is has to do with our being social creatures, and not simply physical beings. It is in this reality that we work, we go to school, we meet others and interact with them. This is also the one where we may “progress” in society, and the one from which we like to take vacations. It is filled with responsibilities, opportunities, and choices. Sartre, in his book L’Être et le Néant (Being and Nothingness), describes the feeling we must associate with this reality as anguish, most precisely, the anguish we feel after realizing that we are free. What he means by us being free is that we have the choice about what we do with our lives, i.e. who we talk to, what job we do, how we spend our days, and so on. Everything is up to us. Even though society might push certain choices upon us, wanting us to conform to a certain model, we are still technically free to choose whatever we want for ourselves. We just have to accept the consequences of said choice. But this does not stop society from imposing a certain system on us, or rather, we are born in a certain system, to which we can choose to comply or not, since we are free. There is still a certain common model to be found in society though, which is the one in which we have to deal with money, laws, and bills, in which we will have full-time jobs, after having achieved whichever number of academic steps, and where we do not take long-term vacations until we are ready to retire, at an advanced age. This is the productive part of our social reality, the one in which we have to contribute to the greater good in order to be able to sustain ourselves. It doesn’t matter in which mechanism we choose to work, we have to be a part of the machine, otherwise we can hardly sustain ourselves within the bounds of society.
The negative aspect of that reality is that it only leaves very little time for ourselves, some time in which we could focus on making ourselves better people, it is all about contributing to some higher cause, whichever that might be. But this does not mean that we do not have the possibility to build our own reality, which may involve “escaping” from the social one, as long as we have some means of income. What I mean by “escaping” is simply to forget its existence, to refuse to fall into the mould created for us by the system. It is not true that we have to spend our lives working a full-time job, because there are other modes of living which might satisfy us more. Traveling, for example, is a way to spend ones life, without falling prey to the static reality society wants for us, because it avoids us selling our souls to one devil, therefore taking back the control of our lives. People use many ways to escape the social reality imposed on us, the most common one is drinking, because it allows us to break down the barriers behind which we guard ourselves usually, whilst another way being losing oneself in a night of entrancing music. We create these little bubbles in which we do not have to worry about anything outside of them, at least for as long as we can keep those bubbles up. Sadly, many of them end up bursting before their time, and so we’re thrown back into the harsh reality until we can form another bubble. This bubble can also be maintained indefinitely, but this usually happens only if we focus the bubble around ourselves exclusively, since it is hard to coexist with others in a personal reality, even more so in the long-run. This is not to say that it is impossible though, only unlikely. Attempts at it are being made, as shown by the existence of various communities trying to keep their distance with the social reality. We have the control over our personal reality, and it is up to us to choose whether we make it our own, or let it be dictated to us by an outside force.
This leads us to the topic of personal progression in life, which will be the subject of part 3.
Until next time,