Querulous Squirrel did a riff on the Rumi one liner that I posted here yesterday. QS is one of my favorite bloggers, and her explorations and insights are rich, expansive and inspiring. Here’s some worthy reading (and so much more if you go directly to her site):

Reality exists. There is no doubt about it. That reality exists is never more apparent than when a loved one dies, when young, strong parents, spouses, siblings, children die in the war in Iraq or soldiers return with the unbearable losses of friends, limbs and parts of their brains, when concentration camp survivors and their children carry around inside them for life the heavy tombstones of unburied relatives who died in the Holocaust, when war orphans of Sierra Leone and the Lost Boys of Sudan move on to new lives carrying with them nightmares that often lead to suicide, when anyone is diagnosed with cancer or hooked up to kidney dialysis, when species become extinct forever, we watch glaciers crash into the sea and we sense the impending global catastrophe that will befall our children and grandchildren.

I therefore own up to the fact that I breathe fire when people claim that reality doesn’t exist, that memory is mere hallucination. To me, it’s akin to Holocaust Denial. Ask the people living with the legacies of these events until the day they die, the people who face the foreshortened future of a terminal illness, the children of the future who will face the collapse of the entire ecosystem. Yes, reality exists. To claim that it doesn’t is psychotic.

But, on the other hand, memory is imperfect. In my opinion, traumatic memory is more perfect than regular memory, because it is stored in an entirely different part of the brain which is why “flashbacks” are so vivid. To some extent, we construct are memories, we amplify and edit over time, and many of us are so highly suggestible as to easily develop “false memories.”

Not only is the memory portions of our brains imperfect, but so are the only senses we have with which to perceive reality: sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Some believe in a sixth psychic sense. I, personally, think of emotion as a type of sense, also imperfect, but often life-saving, especially when it senses danger. Highly emotionally sensitive people like myself who may overreact to some situations are so exquisitely attuned to others as to read interpersonal and intrapsychic situations with a kind of emotional sensor so subtle as to change lives. Some call it emotional intelligence. Yes, perhaps like musical talent. But it still relies on Emotional Sensors like musical talent relies on hearing. It’s not just the ability to sense non-verbal cues, which people with Asperger’s Syndrome lack. No, it’s Emotional Sensing. David Rochester, for example, knows exactly what I mean. We’ve never seen each other’s body language, but we know.

Still, that’s paltry. Dolphins and whales have sonar. All other forms of life have senses that we can’t even grasp yet. Plants apparently can sense other plants like them nearby and as sprouts will grow towards each other. There are extensions of our senses in radar, acoustic waves, X-ray, CT scans, MRI, electromagnetic, pressure, chemical, motion sensors, infrared and fiber optic sensors.

But all of this, sophisticated as we get, will never reveal to us all of reality. Even our imagination for developing such technological systems are limited by the size, structure and functions of our brains.

And so, once again, with so much of reality we don’t know and so many different experiences of reality, how can we ever expect to write anywhere near the same things in anywhere near the same forms if we dig deeply into ourselves and aren’t just superficially imitating the currently fashionable, or copying off the test of the kid at the next desk?

Sometimes it takes a painter to remind a writer of the different slants on reality we can all take, of the arena of nonverbal wisdom she explores while I explore the verbal. I call myself a prose writer. I don’t know how Deborah Barlow categorizes her art. I think of it as transcendental abstract Monet-color field with a Buddhist meditative sensibility. That’s just my small brain’s interpretation.

But Deborah, who constantly introduces me to poets, artists and ideas that inspire my thinking, today posted this simple quote that inspired this post:

The nature of reality is this: It is hidden, and it is hidden, and it is hidden.


Most of it is in fact hidden. So the best we can do in the course of our fleeting lives is try to perceive, interpret and convey our tiny little corner of reality with the greatest authenticity, integrity, honesty and creativity we can muster.

Before those heat-seeking missiles get us.

“Nobra Duse 2”, from a recent painting series