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Is Any of This Real?

At times, I find these ideas a little ontologically challenging. Am I real? Is any of this real? During idle moments, you might find me wiggling my fingers and staring at my own hand.

It’s an odd sentence to write, but: reality is real. It’s just a lot more magical—more mutable—than we realize.

To ground myself, I have only to think of suffering. Of my friend Peter McMurry, who has had a lung transplant, but now his immune system isn’t sure how it feels about his new lungs. Some days, his life is a struggle for breath. The struggle is real.

This moment of time exists. But it is not static. It is, at every level—from its deepest depths to its highest heights—constantly changing. We see vats of water. But in another universe, they are vats of wine.

My language is Christian because I was raised Christian. But we must never disparage another religion because all religions lead to the same God. There is only one God, in the end, to get to. Is I-70 East the best way to get to Kansas City? It is for me. But it might not be the best way for you.

When I feel unmoored, I throw myself into the loving arms of Jesus. Someone else might throw herself into the loving arms of the universe. Another might throw himself into the arms of love itself. Mary Chapin Carpenter speaks of the arms of the great wide open.

I love the lyric, “the arms of the great wide open,” because it speaks of freedom, and I believe that life is a song of freedom.

We are all free. We get to choose our own word; that is our birthright. Even the word Love I find to be calming. I was at the dentist recently, and the whole time, I was thinking: Love Love Love Love Love. I would never wish daily trips to the dentist upon myself, but would that I could think of love every day that fiercely.

The shapes the clouds make, the patterns of sunlight on the grass: though fleeting, they are real. They are real because we see them. We bring our consciousness to them, and our consciousness helps to shape—helps to create—what we see.

We must see through the eyes of love in order to see love. We must see pessimism for what it is: thwarted hope. We must see anger for what it is: thwarted enthusiasm. I don’t like it when people thwart their enthusiasm in my direction. But when I’m strong, I try to understand and inhabit their experience. And when I’m weak, though I may turn away, I try to silently send them love and peace.