Sunday, September 7, 2014

What is Real?

I'm really good with names and faces.

If we've met, I'll most likely remember who you are, smile, reintroduce myself and tell you that it's nice to see you again.

If we've engaged in a professional or volunteer capacity, I'll ask you how your kids are doing and if you're still working with such and such agency.

I don't know why, but peoples' faces and details of their lives stick with me.

So, you would think that I'd have an iron clad memory when it came to recalling 'me' in my own memories.  But I don't.

Often, my recollections are significantly more positive than how they actually went down.  I know this because when I'm sitting around the dining room table over the holidays reflecting with my siblings, they'll laugh at me when I tell a story of the past and claim, "That's not at all how that happened.  So and so was an asshole or you had no idea what you were getting yourself into."

For some reason, I wear rose-colored glasses when remembering people, places, times, and experiences.  Most often, I look fondly back at the past and think that all was well and good, when maybe, well, most certainly, all of it was not.

This morning at the breakfast table, my children were recalling their dreams.  Whenever they wake up, I ask them how their snooze was and if they remember their dreams.  Most often, they don't.  But this morning, they did.  Kate (7) gave a roaring rendition of something that happened in music class with a few of her friends.  And then she said, "What's so weird is that it feels like the dream actually happened even though when I woke up, I knew that it really happened in real life a different way."  And then Sam (9) said, "How can our dreams be different than our life and how do we know what's real?  And is a dream make believe especially when it feels so real?"

All of their pondering about dreams, reality, reflections, memories, recollection and recantation of one single truth sent me into a philosophical diatribe about my belief that there is no one real truth...that ultimately, we all create what is truth for us moment by moment.  Which of course, made no sense to my children.

We talked about how weird it was to go to bed not afraid to fall asleep and live a life through your dreams that may be completely different than what you just experienced while you were conscious.  And how we all just trusted that eventually, we would wake up and come back to reality.

But then, will we remember 'reality' the way that it really happened?  Will it be happier or sadder when it's burned into our memories?  Will we need someone to remind us of what really transpired?

The mind and the memory are powerful entities.  And this morning's breakfast banter has me convinced that the kid questions are only going to get harder particularly as we all try to distinguish what exactly happened in real life versus in a dream state or in our recollection of the past.

Either way, I'm glad that the majority of it for me still remains beautifully rose colored.

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