Distorted reality

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I stood outside my son’s bedroom, bundled up against the cold that was dropping a few meagre snowflakes on the morning. Camera in hand, I was snapping away happily when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window. The double glazing caught a pair of misaligned reflections, within which was caught yet another reflection from the infinity mirror on the far wall. You could see both the garden outside and the inside of the bedroom too; the one indistinguishable from the other to the eye that caught only the two-dimensional image on the glass.

At first glance, the eye saw what the lens sees, a single flat image. It took a few moments for the mind, filled with its knowledge and experience of the three-dimensional world, to begin to tease apart the various overlapping images and make sense of what they eye was seeing. I was conscious of the process and couldn’t help but wonder what someone from a different dimension would make of it. A two-dimensional being would be quite happy with the initial impression. Except that a two-dimensional being wouldn’t be able to distance themselves from the image in order to see it at all…they would, of necessity, be part of it, just as I am part of this image and reality.

What if there was a being that moved through more dimensions that we do? Would our three-dimensional image of the world look just as flat to it as the image on the pane of glass did to me?

Do we really live just within three dimensions though, when time has been posited as a fourth? The softly falling snowflakes were a visual representation of time as I watched them move through space from one place to another. And as I was in those dimensions, watching them, where was the ‘I’ that was able to watch? It cannot be within those nominal four dimensions, for if it were, it would be unable to separate itself from the image in order to observe it.

After proving, to my own satisfaction at least, the necessary existence of the fifth dimension, things got more complicated. While holding a conversation about cats with the son dangling out of his window, I wondered about the fact that the observing consciousness can always observe itself in the process known as infinite regress. Even in that moment, I was aware of the layers of my own consciousness as I chatted about mundane ideas while exploring an inner vision of infinity. And I wondered about the implications of that. I wondered too whether time was simply space observing itself… and if you view space as consciousness, which is far from a new idea, that opens up some intriguing and mind-boggling lines of thought.

While all this was going on, I was looking at the reflections in and through the window. In itself, it was a perfect illustration of both the distorted perception of reality we may have and the many layers it holds. Multiple reflections came together as one image. It is only my experience of those layers of reality that allow me to distinguish between bedroom and garden, inside and outside, mirror, glass and lens. It is only that experience that lets me know what is the image and what is the object.

Without such experience, my mind could not tease apart the various layers as it would not know where to begin. If I had never seen the world before, never learned the rules of its reality, what would I make of it?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio…” We dismiss such a lot of things simply because they are so far outside our range of experience that we cannot perceive them. If we did see them, we may not recognise them because we don’t know what we are looking at. We have no frame of reference. Even with that simple snapshot of the reflections it is difficult to make out the reality if you don’t know what you are seeing. Is one arm really that much shorter than the other…or is it a trick of perspective? Am I wearing a printed skirt, or is it the bedspread through the glass? Even I can’t guarantee what you will see… and I was there.

Reality goes far beyond what our physical senses can show us. I look out of my window and see the garden next door. Except I don’t. What see in reality is only the fence. Memory fills in the gaps of perception. I know there is a garden beyond the fence. In truth, I know nothing. A sinkhole could have opened in the night and swallowed the garden. The neighbours could have released a pet crocodile onto the lawn. There could be anything beyond the fence. But I do not question my version of reality because it is the vision of my own experience. The oddest thing is that even being aware of how many of the gaps I am filling in by assumption and memory, it changes nothing… except my openness to possibility.

It makes me wonder just how much we do miss or dismiss, both in our dealings with each other and in our observation of reality, simply because we have bounded our acceptance and perception with a wall of experience.

29 thoughts on “Distorted reality

  1. How often have we been looking at the same scene and not seen something observed by the other person?
    This happens far too often to be a coincidence.
    That is an amazing capture, Sue…

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  2. This is one of those mind boggling posts that I liken to thinking about infinity… It opens up so many thoughts and ideas, concepts and yet…. there is no saying any of them are remotely correct or even near to the truth. Think of all of it at the quantum level and your head explodes. But the lesson is there and plain to see….. we are looking at life through many lenses often without even knowing it……….not least of which is our brain that deletes, dumbs down and hides things from our consciousness mind whatever we do…. Nice post and lots to consider…

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    1. Moments like this are great for just opening us up to the idea that there are infinite possibilities that we may, or may not, percieve, consider or be aware of… and, as you say, just how many veiling layers might be clouding what and how we lookout of ourselves.

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          1. Yes, I’ve always had that concern. What if the world is actually blowing up like a balloon and then going down again? If we’re all doing it, we wouldn’t notice. I first voiced that at age 12, I think.

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  3. One of my aunts once took an eye test that showed two birds and two cages. She was asked what she saw and said she couldn’t see the bird go into the cage. It turned out she had a blind spot in her sight she wasn’t aware of until then. It makes a person wonder if they have a problem they’re unaware of. This is an interesting post, Sue. 🙂 — Suzanne

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  4. I’ve often wondered if there is anything there outside of what I see at the moment! I do know that anyone’s individual perception is different from mine – have to think about that in dealing with children and family in particular!

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    1. Yes, we all see everything differently. How many ‘unseen’ things swirl around us, all the time…things eyes cannot capture? And for every one that we know about, how many others might there be?

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  5. Great post on perspectives to go with your picture. Now I wonder how many of us would just have deleted it off the chip and not thought about it, let alone the direction in which you took your thoughts on it! You continue to amaze me Sue!

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  6. I wonder what fraction of “reality” we perceive, Sue. 60%, 5%, .000001%, or far less. I love this post. We function within a world shaped by our experiences which is shaped by our perceptions. And to be functional, we require perceptual limitations, rules, and boundaries. But we’d be fools to believe that we see all there is to see and know all there is to know. The scope of our perceptual, imaginative, cognitive myopathy is beyond comprehension. I find that there is something undefinably liberating when we come to dwell in the place of “not knowing” and open to the vast realm of possibility. It’s in that place of possibility, that I find no fear.

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