Is Memory Reality?

April, 2013
The building that used to be R2's elementary school. It seemed so much bigger in the 1950s.

The building that used to be R2’s elementary school. It seemed so much bigger in the 1950s.

A few days ago I was asked a specific question about a meeting I attended in 2000. I explained exactly what happened in the meeting and was asked the follow-up question: “Was that really what happened?” I immediately answered: “Yes, that’s what I remembered.” Well, just because that’s what I remembered happening, is that really what happened?

At five years old, R2 didn't think his Dad, pictured above, could catch him. A real memory?

At five years old, R2 didn’t think his Dad, pictured above, could catch him. A real memory?

Recently, I drove by the building that used to house my elementary school. It’s now used as a senior assisted-living facility. The building seems a lot smaller than I remember. Of course, it’s not unusual for a person to reflect on his childhood and not have correct memories of shapes and sizes experienced during that time. So, is my childhood memory reality?

My father died when I was five years-old. I remember very little of my father, but having stated that, I do think I vividly remember a few special times with him. One special incident, I often recall, is when I told my father that he couldn’t catch me, if I ran away from him. I then ran from him and he caught me after I had only run a few yards. I couldn’t believe how fast he was, for an older man (in his thirties:-). But, my Mom had told me that story over and over. Did I remember the incident or am I repeating something from my mother’s memory? Is my memory reality?

Last week, my wife and I went to a restaurant for dinner. I remember it was a Chinese restaurant. But, what did I have to eat that evening? Well, I know I had rice. :-) What else? I wasn’t sure, until I asked my wife. She immediately named everything we had. I remember, now that she has reminded me. Or, do I remember? Am I simply repeating what she remembered? Is my current memory reality? Is her memory reality?

Did I REALly eat Chinese food, if I can't remember what I ate?

Did I REALly eat Chinese food, if I can’t remember what I ate?

So, why do I keep going back to my memory? How can I talk, think, or live without using my memory? But, is my talking, thinking, or living based on reality when I use by memory? Don’t I hold on to my memory because it defines me? For example, when I’m asked my thoughts about almost anything, I refer to what I know about it and then respond. What I know is often known through memory. Is that reality?

I think I know my wife very well. As I bring her to mind (she’s not here, with me, as I write this) and think about what I really know about her, do I have an accurate picture of her? Everything I’ve recalled about her is from my memory. When I describe her to someone else, it’s all from my point of view. Would she be described by her sister, who knows her well, as having the same likes, dislikes, personal traits, etc., that I declare she has? No! I’m really describing her based on my perspective. Everything in my description is relative. Is my memory, which depends upon my point of view, reality?

"Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart's desire."--John Dewey

“Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire.”
–John Dewey

Considering everything I’ve written so far, it seems that I very seldom have contact with the real. At least, when I’m using my memory, the unreal appears to be the norm. My senses are constantly using my memory to determine what I’m seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, and feeling. And, what I determine is based on my perspective. So, my memory depends on my point of view, but reality doesn’t depend on any point of view – it simply is.

Is memory reality? No! What is memory compared to reality? Memory is a story about reality from a point of view.

John Dewey wrote:Time and memory are true artists; they remould reality nearer to the heart’s desire.” Perhaps, memory is more of what my heart desires and less of reality.

grab-small-r21


What Are The Most Important Questions Facing Humankind?

January, 2013
The important question here is: "What's your point of view?" :-)'Lincoln in Dalivision' was created based on the Dali painting 'Gala looking at the Mediterranean Sea' which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. NOTE: Back away from your computer screen if you can't see the "big" picture of Lincoln.

The important question here is: “What’s your point of view?” :-)
‘Lincoln in Dalivision’ was created based on the Dali painting ‘Gala looking at the Mediterranean Sea’ which at a distance of 20 meters is transformed into the portrait of Abraham Lincoln. NOTE: Back away from your computer screen if you can’t see the “big” picture of Lincoln.

Once Albert Einstein was asked, “What is the most important question facing humankind?” Einstein responded by asking another question: “Is the universe a friendly place?”

Einstein: "Is the universe a friendly place?"

Einstein: “Is the universe a friendly place?”

Hmm…, I think the answer to Einstein’s question is yes. Why? Well, if you think it isn’t, then where is the unfriendliness? Generally, the universe seems to be friendly in the sense that it provides a way for us to live our lives, to be comforted, and is not antagonistic. Of course, we humans need to act like it is friendly in order for us to come to that realization. The universe is a friendly place; humankind’s actions often makes the universe unfriendly.

Another important question I think we should consider is: “How can we eliminate evil?” Some say evil is the result of God giving us free will. Of course, the existence of God must be accepted before you can blame evil on God’s gift of free will. Maybe, evil is just part of our maturing process. How would we be able to develop virtues, if we didn’t have evil? For example, the virtue of courage would be difficult to develop if we never had to face evil. But, no matter how we establish what evil is, how do we eliminate it?

I have a challenge that I need to overcome - how to stop the toilet from running before you have to run to the toilet. :-)

I have a challenge that I need to overcome – how to stop the toilet from running before you have to run to the toilet. :-)

Though it’s not always the most important question, I often wonder what approach we should use to obtain what we need/want in life? Do you think we should have to struggle for what we get? Are our lives, primarily, a never-ending struggle? I don’t know about you, but I certainly feel a sense of struggle on a somewhat regular basis. You see, I feel pressure to overcome life’s daily challenges by solving the problems associated with them. For example, if I wake-up and notice a toilet is constantly running, I immediately feel an anxious need to fix the toilet. This, then turns into a challenge that I need to overcome – how to stop the toilet from running before I have to run to the toilet. :-)

In the third paragraph, I posed the question: “How can we eliminate evil?” Most likely, we can’t, but then again, I can’t even explain what evil is. Perhaps, this is why Einstein, on another occasion, is quoted as saying, “The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil from the spirit of man.”

Really, all of these important questions seem to have a central theme – the struggle of humankind. Is life an unending struggle? Well, when I view life as such, I usually view my life through anxious or panic-stricken eyes. Of course, that doesn’t help with the struggle or my health. So what should I do? About all I can do is to change my point of view. What would I do if I was willing to let what I see as a struggle be easy? Well, in my case, when I purposefully look for easier ways to approach what I consider a struggle, a sense of inner-peace comes over me.

It's "bearly" a problem when I change my point of view. :-)

It’s “bearly” a problem when I change my point of view. :-)

When I change my point of view and attain inner-peace, I’m usually able to turn any struggle into a “solved problem.” For example, recently I was faced with a major presentation that I thought required me to memorize a large amount of words. I struggled over this dilemma for days before I asked myself, “How could I do this differently?” After exploring possible answers to the question, I realized that I didn’t have to memorize all of the words and instead, I could use notes to help with the presentation. Immediately, there was a sense of peace that came over me and my anxiety left. As you can see, I adjusted (changed) my point of view, answered the question, and the struggle became a solved problem.

Again, what are the most important questions facing humankind? I’ve listed a few important ones, but ultimately, I think we will all have more personal questions that are more important to us than the ones facing humankind. Now, of course, these personal questions may be directly related to those facing all humans, but we will usually focus on them from a very personal point of view. When we consider our important questions, we should use them only for stimulating our thinking. We should not turn them into a struggle that results in causing us anxiety and panic.

I'm NOT unfriendly and evil, it's just your point of view!

I’m NOT unfriendly and evil, it’s just your point of view!

I believe that life is here to be appreciated and enjoyed. If we are considering negativity, such as general unfriendliness, evil, or our latest struggle that’s causing us anxiety and panic, we are going to have a difficult time appreciating and enjoying life. It’s important to change from the negative frame of mind to the positive where we change our struggle (question) into an easier approach by changing our point of view.

What makes point of view such an important element of our thinking process? Point of view (mental perspective) gives us a frame of reference, or orientation, for our thinking. When we are seeking answers to questions, or solving problems, we are always doing so from a point of view. Without considering other points of view, we will remain fixed in our approach to solving a problem or answering a question. It is similar to negotiating by demanding there is only one way to accomplish a goal. We each think from a point of view and we are each capable of changing our point of view.

Have a question/problem? Your point of view will help you (with the answer/solution).

So what’s the most important (personal) question facing you? “What is my point of view? At least, that’s R2’s point of view. :-)

What’s your point of view?

grab-small-r21


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