Start Again


If you were born a writer, one of the hardest things for you to come to terms with as your childhood progresses is that not everyone can do this. There are far more painful lessons, but this one baffles us as we come of age. Perhaps no matter what your "special" ability or skill is, the lesson is the same.

I remember as early as the age of eight, I tried to organize a "magazine" that my friends and I would write all the articles and stories for. I told them to write something for the magazine and waited. They stared back blankly at me. One friend, I think it was Jimmy Gray, pulled me aside. "If we could write our own stories, I don't think we'd like reading yours so much."

Whenever I see a convergence of people, I ponder questions that emanate from this ancient lesson. All these people, moving around in a sort of chaotic order, and each has special abilities that others do not have. Many of them take these abilities for granted. They assume others know and understand what they know and understand. Computer professionals react with disgust when the deal maker doesn't understand the basics of their trade. People who grew up fixing cars are appalled when someone doesn't know what a distributor cap does. Writers are frustrated when someone cannot put their thoughts into words in the way they do.

These questions are the answer to another question.

If each person contains a soul that is an independent and unique universe, then what is the purpose of creating a collective reality? Is companionship worth sacrificing those elements of personal reality that must be reconciled with the elements of a collective reality? In some ways it is, but the answer lies deeper within a realization that individual personal universes are part of an equation, pieces of a puzzle, that can be assembled to create different pictures.

Within the frame of a collective reality
There are many pictures.
These pictures build something when put together.
For what end is the question.

No process is completely clean. To wish for flawless constructions and transitions is a breeding ground for disappointment. Smooth transitions defy the purpose of life within a frame. There is no lesson to be learned to be taught in a smooth transition. The conflict and the nature of obstacles are constructs of the road. As we move from one period in our life to another, these detours and roadblocks become more essential.

The collective reality plays a large part is constructing these detours and roadblocks. The norms of a society may be followed, or they may be turned away from. The first is an easier road, the latter is a harder road. Following the norms allows one to roll with the tide. Bucking the norm requires one to swim against it.

Some follow the norms as a way of life. Others purposely revolt against them and go in another direction. Then there are those who follow the spirit within. They are the ones who travel the road spread out before them. They live within their own truth and accept themselves whether they turn with or against the established systems.

Who the heck are you?

Many take for granted the very basic elements of their art, trade or skill. We are frustrated by in inability of some to grasp these basic concepts, and yet unless we enter into their realm of expertise, we don't see the mirror. There are inevitably basic elements of their personal universe that we do not comprehend or have never been exposed to. Bob the scientist has no idea how to avoid getting runs in pantyhose. He's never had any reason to so much as think about the very concept.

The collective reality weighs greater value on certain skills than others. Bob the scientist may know how to split the atom. His efforts to explain atomic principles to his cousin Amanda the office manager may leave him at a loss for words. Her ability to organize an office filled with real estate salesman might overwhelm Bob. Sometimes he can't remember where he put his eyeglasses down. She knows where everything is at all times. She also never gets runs in her pantyhose.

The skill set that benefits the advance of a collective reality is generally measured as more valuable. Skills held by fewer individuals get top billing. Teachers who give instruction to youth to prepare them with skills beneficial to the collective reality might be more highly valued if their skills were considered rare. Quite often the collective reality becomes convinced that teaching is a skill anyone with knowledge of a subject could do.

At the same time, watch as those who sit behind desks making decisions and signing contracts spend a day in the warehouse loading and unloading trucks, pulling inventory and wearing out over the course of a hard day of physical labor. Watch them do it in the sun and watch them wilt. Learned roles and the acclimation to those roles are almost as important in our innate skill sets within a frame.

Feed me.

The collective reality seeks to fill its needs and in doing so, often suffocates natural skills and abilities in order to train an individual for a needed skill set. Depending on the focus and needs of a collective reality, an artist may be trained for work as a nurse or carpenter. In a collective reality where financial earning power is valued over all things, one may be dissuaded from following a desire to become a historian in order to be trained as a corporate lawyer.

The danger of a collective reality is that it seeks to follow its wants and needs rather than serving the wants and needs of individual realities. A perfectly functioning collective reality that served the needs of all individuals held in its gravitational pull is rare, if not impossible. Small scale subset collective realities may be able to achieve such goals, but the overall collective reality is limited by its size. It becomes directed by those with power and influence and eventually comes to serve their direction. The vast majority is caught in the undertow.

How can I make the collective reality work for me?

Relax. Know yourself. The way you deal with family, friends, home, work and pleasure are all directed by the collective reality. We do many things simply because "this is the way things are done." You cannot split from the whole program, but you can establish your identity. How many things do you do simply because it is the way it is done or because everyone else seems to be doing it? Did you watch the game last night because you wanted to or because everyone else is and you don't want to seem stupid for not knowing what happened? Did you get married because it was what you wanted to do or because it is what people do? Did you really want to go out with everyone after work again? Did you buy that new car just to impress people? Do you care about washing your windows? Are those clothes really what you'd wear if you had your choice?

You can navigate the sea for what it is
And still control the direction of your ship

There is a level of compromise that must be reached. The key is in knowing the difference between what one does within the realm of their personal reality and what they do to satisfy the collective reality. Knowing answers the questions. One cannot truly reject either reality. Both exist and are valid. They have different focuses, but often share focuses on different levels. All too many take a different road. They feel so at odds with the collective reality as a whole that they adopt the trappings of a subset collective reality and call it their individuality. These subsets may have more in common with one's individual reality than the overall collective reality, but when there is much in common it is easier to forsake other elements of individual reality in order to adopt the standards of a friendly subset collective reality.

Subset collective realities that attract coherents willing to accept their standards are endangered by those who misunderstand the scope of the subset collective reality. Myriad reinterpretations of the standards by an influx of new individuals can warp the very definition of a subset collective reality. Massive influx turned hippies into drug addled caricatures, watered down environmentalists until they became whining complainers who were upset about everything, and changed religious movements into Sunday social gatherings. All it takes is an influx of new individuals with their own agendas attaching themselves to your collective reality.

So, what you have within a frame is individual realities, an overall collective reality and a potentially unlimited number of subset collective realities. Where does a confused young soul find its place?

If there was an easy answer there would be no reason to live.
Each frame presents its own challenges.
This is the road.


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