I'd like to think it was sometime in childhood that it occurred to me to wonder: "When I see a field that I call 'green,' and you see the same field and also call it 'green,' are we actually seeing the same color? Or have we just agreed on a common name for a color we both see quite differently?" That pondering would end with the realization that we could never truly know what it is that each other sees.
As I said, I'd like to think it was in childhood, and I know it was fairly early in life, but it's quite unlikely that it happened in my earliest years. Here's why: I was raised in a tight-knit system in which there was literally One Reality. That reality existed in the Bible, and the interpretation I was exposed to was not interpretation; it was literal Reality. It was impossible to conceive of anything existing outside it.
I probably still lived in the embrasure of that reality when I first entertained that speculation about how we each see colors. Little did I know then that what my mind was exploring was the possibility of different and many realities. In fact, it's probably strange that we use the word "reality," since there are so many varieties of experience, so many angles from which to see what we think of as reality.
It's said sometimes that a person living with schizophrenia is "out of touch with reality." But which reality? Sometimes it's more accurately expressed that they are in touch with a different reality than "the rest of us." That assumes that "the rest of us" never experience the schizophrenic person's reality, whereas perhaps we do at times. It also assumes that there is a monolithic reality that the "rest of us" all experience, when there actually isn't a single one. And, it assumes that there is such a thing as "the rest of us." A lot of assumptions. About reality.
One of Cheyenne's uncles was schizophrenic, and once when I was walking across Copenhagen, deeply engaged in conversation with him, I nearly walked into busy traffic. Michael put out his arm to hold me back. Which of us was more aware of reality?
And then there's science, which is touted as a paragon of reality and objectivity. Science is no more objective than the people conducting it. Scientists searching for a particular outcome, a certain cure, often, and not maliciously, come up with results that are later shown to be inaccurate or even false. It's important to know what entity funded scientific research because sometimes the source of funding leads to biased results. Even in science there are different realities.
I sometimes think of reality as what we see through a kaleidoscope—ever shifting, many faceted, lavish with color and shape. The magnificence of many realities.
The word reality is brought to you in WORDS FROM FRIENDS by Mirakhel Windsong, whom I got to know, though not well, during my last time of living in Gallup.