Quofda: The World As You Know It

This answers, in a very roundabout way,  a Quofda: “Would you give up reality as you know it to live in a world of your own making, even if it wasn’t real?” This post’s sub-title may as well be, “Why Culture Is Sometimes Just an Excuse.”

To explain my circumventing the question a bit, I think we all have a different reality. At the same time, one’s reality doesn’t invalidate another’s. They are all “true,” in a respect, because we are all real humans. What is your reality? If it got turned on its head, would you be able to cope? Or might you even be relieved?

It is a truly revealing experience having one’s frame of reference completely turned around. I’m not saying it’s easy, because it is everything but. It’s really hard work, in fact. But it’s something you have to do when you realize that your foundation is largely not, nor was ever, reflective of reality. That there’s something better outside and inside of us, outside of the world we were conditioned to accept and adhere to. That we were all meant to enjoy a new kind of liberty – a world that we reconstruct inside our own minds because we were each created uniquely, to be nurtured uniquely and to live uniquely.

And there goes, by the wayside, everything as we know it. Maybe it’s a result of the realization that things and people are more complicated than is easy for us to swallow. That when you group things or people in order to fit them inside our tiny brains, maybe – just maybe – we put them in the wrong group, or even a group that if we were truly all-cognizant beings wouldn’t even exist. That maybe we don’t know the answers to everything and pretending as if we do hurts, not helps, others.

Maybe it’s about understanding that treating others better than ourselves ultimately helps us all get ahead, not lag behind. It’s about truly believing and therefore living that we are all valuable; ultimately, the goal is to not run that race of propping ourselves at the expense of others.

We need to step outside the lie that not being right means we are worth any less. That even changing our minds and moving on doesn’t mean people should believe in us less because we were wrong in the past, but they should believe in us more because we’re taking responsibility for ourselves and dare to develop as changing beings.

Further than that, the world in which we grew up happened to us for a reason – and it’s about not being stuck there for the sake of being right and dragging whomever we can down with us, it’s about how we move forward from here. This doesn’t mean we won’t make any mistakes, or that we won’t revert back to our old ones. It’s about truly embracing that we’re human, not masking it. Habits. Culture. They all develop for a reason, but once we use them as excuses for not looking beyond things, not questioning the rules, we’re only stunting ourselves.

Like many, one of my favorite things to do is travel. I’m always taken aback by the wonderment and awe of being a part of a world that is so unfamiliar. I’m so happy to be absorbed by the new environment that I try to take in as much as I can. Even more fulfilling is the here and now of this new place in the context of its history.

So, I lick up as much as I can – sometimes by way of audio guides. I will get completely lost in them – the stories they tell about the placements of artifacts, the ornation and details in the art and how they got there, the culture, traditions and customs of the people at the time of its creation.

Sometimes, it comes back to me. Particularly in Europe, when natives after inquiring are surprised to learn that my origin is not Asia but a colorful American city called Los Angeles. In (non-boondocks) America today, Asia would be the offensive assumption to make. But to me the benevolence in the exchange lies not so much in the failure to assume, but the pure investment in learning about others past what they can do for ourselves. That there’s a simple respect we hold towards others, especially others we don’t already know anything about.

So although it’s a really annoying habit to answer a question with another, this is one of those few times where I think it’s necessary. Do we really believe that the world is bigger than us, or is it just easier to believe that it’s not?