LIFE is a messy, confusing business. And as for reality, it sometimes seems to be nothing more than a collective hunch.
It is said that each of us is at least four different people — the person we think we are, the person others think we are, the person we think others think we are. And the person we really are.
Author Kurt Vonnegut said we are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful about what we pretend. Stephen King observed we lie best when we lie to ourselves.
So, if reality is relative, who are we really?
A father, a son, a single mother, a depression sufferer, company chairman, bricklayer, Christian, Buddhist, atheist? What might happen if those labels were removed?
We might suffer an identity crisis, a common problem in societies where roles and relationships are in flux.
To know the true reality of ourselves, we need to be aware not only of conscious thoughts, but also of our unconscious prejudices, bias and habits that can lead to self-deception.
A study found that many people choose pure-bred dogs that resemble themselves physically. But there is obviously more to it.
British writer Aldous Huxley observed that to his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
Mark Twain said it was lucky that Heaven went by favour. If it went by merit, “you would stay out and your dog would go in”.
Well, he has a point. To dogs, every monotonous day is an absolute adventure. And dogs seem to love unconditionally and forgive us instantly. They don’t seem to care how we vote, how famous we are or how thin. They don’t seem to judge us.
George Harrison once remarked that his dog did not know, or care, that he was once a Beatle.
“And I am not really Beatle George,” he said.
“Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion and until the end of
my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.”
Cary Grant noted at the height of his screen fame that almost everyone he met wanted to be Cary Grant.
`Even I want to be Cary Grant,” he said, nicely summing up the delineation between film fantasy and the real man.
We may instinctively wish to be someone we are not. As Blaise Pascal said almost four centuries ago: “We are not satisfied with real life; we want to live some imaginary life in the eyes of other people, and to seem different to what we really are.”
The apostle John, describing a heavenly revelation given to him, wrote of a New World in which God has prepared a white stone for each of us with a new name on it
The name on the stone, known only to those who receive it, reveals something very personal about the receiver.
That means we are all somewhere on the journey to become the names that God wrote down even before our births.
Theologian George MacDonald described the white stone name as “the man’s own symbol — his soul’s picture, in a word — the sign which belongs to him and to no one else. Who can give a man this, his own name? God alone. For no one but God sees what the man is.
“It is only when the man has become his name that God gives him the stone with the name upon it, for then, for the first time, he can understand what his name signifies.”