Not long ago, the apartment complex I live in had morning curbside trash collection. You brought your trash down to the curb between seven and nine in the morning and it would be taken away for you. Then people began to press the rules. They would leave their trash out at night for the morning collection, some complaining that the times were prejudiced against those who worked nights or didn't get up early in the morning. This caused an influx of animal life, tearing at the bags in search of nightly food. Eventually this got so out of control that the curbside trash pick-up was cancelled. You would now have to take your garbage to the dumpster yourself.
The move to eliminate trash pick-up caused many to grumble as they walked with their bags of garbage to the one dumpster on the property of the sprawling apartment complex. Some took their trash to the dumpster by placing the bags on the hood of their car and driving it there. Others watched and began to follow in step. This was easier than walking, and everyone seemed to be doing it. Many who spent an afternoon every weekend washing and taking meticulous care of their personal vehicle would take to placing leaky bags of spoiled trash onto the hood of those same cars and driving it to the dumpster. Everyone was doing it. This was okay. This was cool.
This is how the collective reality functions.
Consider thousands of years of history impacting individuals in much the same way as the trash trolleys I watch from my window every day. Once something is considered acceptable, it becomes part of the acceptable standards of the collective reality. Once it becomes accepted as the "correct" way of doing things, it becomes carved into the very essence of the collective reality. Some things reach the level where they can no longer be questioned because they have been accepted as truth.
I walk my trash to the dumpster. I never wash my car. There are dents in the hood, including some tragic low budget body work done after someone backed into my car in the parking lot. Still, I won't be putting any bags of garbage on the hood of my car and driving it to the dumpster. It doesn't make sense to me. I need the walk and enjoy the walk. The challenge of carrying a number of heavy bags over such a distance appeals to me.
This is how you get out of synchronicity with the collective reality.
It is a simple example but it is a surface value for what has far deeper connotations. The question may be how in synchronization with the collective reality you really want to be. How in synch do you need to be? Too much and you are a machine. Too little and you are living in a little room overlooking a lake having medication doled out to you on a regular basis. Somewhere there is a balance, and this balance becomes who you are.
This is how you discover personal reality.
Once you are able see the separation between personal reality and the collective reality, you enter the void. You begin to feel like you are alone, and for a time, you will be. Embracing the trappings of a collective reality gives you many things. You are able to relate and stand alongside others and feel like you are one of them. At the same time, if you embrace the collective reality too tightly, you will feel yourself become an empty shell. To go too far in the other direction, to accept only your personal reality, leaves you on an island. So, how do you negotiate the curves?
Fuck you. Pay me.
We are taught to look up to celebrities and political leaders. These are the people, we are told, who have risen to the pinnacle of the human experience. Because they are so widely known and celebrated, they must be examples and heroes to us all. Those who are impressive at playing sports are role models and heroes. Those who act, sing and write are admired for making money and creating a myth more than they are for their creativity and what they give us. Art dies slowly, as money and ownership of the details becomes more important than the sharing of the craft.
Artists and public figures spend more time in court and chasing violators of their right to make money than they do focusing on the nature of their craft. To give. To create is to give. In years gone by, people created in order to share. A story was passed from village to village, from generation to generation. Performers would go from town to town, performing for a meal and a place to sleep, an exchange of mutual appreciation. These days, it is all about the bottom line. Political leaders are more concerned about their image and their approval rating. They don't care much about their ideals, and if they do they will never rise higher than their local government. You can't please all the people all the time, so they concentrate on the majority. The collective reality boils with shifting loyalties and changing positions. If you can't get rich doing what you are doing, then what is the point? The collective reality splinters itself.
Is Charlemagne really more relevant than that kid you knew in the seventh grade who taught you how to win at chess? Is the death of Princess Diana more relevant than the death of your friend who died in a car accident five years ago? Is the march of the barbarians on Rome more important than the realization that your childhood best friend's father raped and physically abused your friend for years, leading to his suicide? This is the foundation of personal mythology. These events are more important within the base of your soul. Words on a page versus experiences adding up.
We are taught to filter these experiences and to read them in a specific way. We are taught certain things about love between two people and how that means being with them and growing old with them. Love changes with the landscape of the personal reality and all too often we fight the changes. We try to get back what we once had and we sacrifice what we truly believe because this is "the right thing to do." We compromise ourselves into oblivion, not because compromise is wrong, but because we compromise ourselves to the collective reality not to each other. Sometimes we don't even know who we are because we've bought so many labels and affixed them to ourselves so others can see. No one has to think about you if you are wearing a label, they can just call out the name on the label.
Seek out the mentors, the inspirations and those you can give everything you can to. This is the thread of your personal mythology. These are figures worthy of the banners and celebrations of the so-called great figures of history, past and present. Some will build empires by conquering people and presiding over them. A true empire comes from the expanding web of those you love. That is the meaning of life. That is your answer. Those who would ask you to stop loving another so that they may have all your love are false idols along the perimeter. They have been taught to ask for this. To possess is not to love. To give is to love. Embrace your personal mythology. Your personal reality spirals out from yourself to those you love and creates its own collective reality. This is the collective reality you must realize if you are to move forward.