Magic in Nature
When you talk about perception of reality you have to start with something big, something everyone can relate to―the Sun. The Sun is this massive ball of fire. The Sun is so big we are caught in its gravitational pull. The Sun is what gives life to planet Earth and in comparison we are just this tiny little speck. Planet Earth has a gravitational pull of its own. It’s what keeps us here glued to the surface. Plants have learned to defy Earth’s gravity to reach for the life giving Sun. And us humans, we’ve learned how to stand and walk with a fully vertical posture, allowing us to reach higher as well.
In my own personal perception, planet Earth is the most amazing place to live. Not everyone would agree with that statement, for every living thing has their own perception of reality. Some people think it would be awesome to live on Mars or any other planet with very little gravity. If that were the case you might be running late for a little Martian bus, and you’re hopping along―flapping your arms―and you can’t get enough traction or speed to catch the bus!
Here on Earth we can walk and we can run with ease because of gravity. And not everyone would agree with that. Some people think running is an absolute pain. And that’s possibly because their perception of reality is that running is all about defying gravity, when in actuality it’s gravity that allows Usain Bolt to run twenty-seven miles per hour. When you add a slight lean to your walk or run you’re simply picking up each foot throughout a long controlled fall. According to Danny Dreyer, author of Chi Running, the greater you lean, the more you open up your stride, the faster you move. Athletes and animals know how to use this gravity loop-hole to their advantage.
Perception of reality is a vast topic with many paths flowing through multiple dimensions of time and space. For the sake of keeping focus in this particular piece of literature I’d like to lay down some agreed upon perceptions of reality. Let’s agree a day is twenty-four hours long, and that when the Earth spins away from the Sun―night time falls―and we humans need about eight hours of sleep. Which then leaves us with a final agreement that we spend sixteen hours in the waking world.
The Three Realities
Within a twenty-four hour Earth day, we experience two realities. At night, while we’re sleeping, we experience the Dream World Reality. When we awake in the day we experience the Waking World Reality. The more pleasant your dreams are, the better rest you will get. In the Dream World it’s our goal to stay asleep―to then be well rested to experience the Waking World. And in the Walking World we really don’t wanna fall asleep. If we were to use that gravity loop-hole of leaning into each step and then fall asleep we’d fall right on our face.
Something interesting about the Walking World and the Dream World is their relation to the Sun. Remember we’re constantly in the gravitational pull of the sun―when the sun comes up we get up, and when the sun goes down we drift down to go to sleep. There’s a lot to gain by riding the so called waves of nature.
Plants have one major goal: Reach for the Sun. I like to imagine them just sitting their chanting, “Reach for the Sun. Reach for the Sun. Reach for the Sun…” They can’t get up and walk around in search of more fertile soil. They can’t reach out and unravel a garden hose and control when it rains. You might say a plant is just one big brain.
Humans, we have this pliability to our bodies. The more we move around throughout our day the healthier we become. We’re not plants―we’re not built to just sit around all day. That being said I suggest you stand up for a minute. Stretch your limbs out. Leap off the ground or floor and experience your ability to escape Earth’s gravitational pull. Pretty exciting feeling isn’t it? Almost scary, like if we grew too successful in defying Earth’s gravitational pull we might find ourselves drifting off into the vacuum of space.
Speaking of drifting, I’d like to introduce you to the third and newest reality. I know almost certainly if you’re reading this you’re not currently in the Dream World Reality. And although it may seem like it, you’re not in the Waking World Reality. Yes, you are awake. Inhale deep, smell the air. Wiggle your toes, feel their surroundings―are they in socks? Or shoes? Or free in the open air? Listen to the furthest sound you can, really hone in on it. Taste the saliva on your tongue, now the roof of your mouth. Now look very deeply at the period of this sentence before going on to the next sentence. Where is your mind? Think about where your own mind is. You’re making of a voice for the speaker of the silent words lying before you. You’re imaging how I might look, what clothes I might be dressed in while speaking these words to you. Yet, no one is actually saying these words to you, it’s all in your head. You’re building a world in your own head with the aid of digital technology. The Digital World Reality.
We’ve all experienced this: you’re having a conversation with someone when all the sudden their head drops, their hand lifts their phone to their face, and the conversation halts. Where did they go? The Digital World Reality.
Multiple studies released throughout the 2010s show human beings are now spending more than eight hours a day interacting with a digital device. Eight is a huge deal. Remember out first agreement: we sleep eight hours―and I don’t really know what this―symbol is for or how it’s supposed to be used, like this: symbol feels like a spring that’s bouncing the next thought along: briskly. And this―symbol feels like a bridge gently walking you to the next thought. The period then feels like a ball that’s been dropped. Hold up: I’m slipping into another reality―back to the number eight.
Eight on its side is infinity. Eight is two circles stuck together. You break a day into thirds: eight, sixteen, twenty-four―Dream World, Waking World, Digital World. If you’re spending more than eight hours in any one of these, that then becomes your base reality. That’s the world you’re spending the bulk of your time in.
I myself am not exempt from days spent with the Digital World being my base. In those days me stepping outside for a walk through nature was me taking a break from the Digital World. But I think we’d all agree that us walking in a forest, or a walk down a street is us being in the real world. If we have a pleasant day, we then have pleasant dreams, and if we have pleasant dreams we’re well rested to experience the Waking World the next day. It works in a nice little cycle.
But what the eff is the Digital World?! I mean you can’t really live in the Digital World, can you? Is it a good thing, is it a bad thing? Like I mentioned earlier, athletes and animals excel by riding the waves of nature. So where exactly does the Digital World fit in?
Right now I see two main perceptions of the Digital World: We have people who absolutely love the Digital World. These are people who make their living off the Digital World through things like YouTube partnerships, sponsored Vines, stock photography. These are the people who if they don’t constantly drop their head to their phone they will lose followers and lose out on money. Yes these people could practically live inside the Digital World. By living in a home with internet access they could bank online, shop online, have food delivered to their door online, and realistically never leave a rolling desk chair for the rest of their flesh and bone life.
Then we have the other perception: People who can’t stand the Digital World. These are the people who get angry when someone pulls a phone out at the dinner table. These people may have lost a job to an automated machine. We now have self checkout lines and Amazon.com, we’re seeing less cashiers. Taxi dispatchers, and taxi drivers are fading, we now have apps for hailing a ride.
This right here may very well be the most crucial point we’ve ever reached as a civilization, because shifting from spending the bulk of our time in the Waking World Reality to spending the Bulk of our time in the Digital World Reality, that’s about as significant a change as a species going from spending the bulk of its time on four legs, to spending the bulk of its time on two.
In a dream if you fall off a cliff and break your legs, you then wake up and you’re fine―there’s no lasting effect. Even though the Digital World is video games, television, Minecraft, League of Legends―it’s fake but things like cyber bulling have very serious effects on the Waking World. This can cause stress and tension. Stress and tension can lead to real illness in the body. There are kids who have taken their lives because of an embarrassing photo or video of them that got posted online.
This is something huge we must take a step back and figure out going into our future. The Digital World crept in so quickly we’ve yet to understand how best it can aid our species in growth. Every new generation’s driving force is to be stronger, faster, quicker, and more intelligent than the last. But as I talk to friends, family, and strangers―and looking around at the people throughout my daily life I see most people are striving to attain more wealth than the previous generation while the health of our species and the health of our planet are diminishing.
Option number one is we abandon the Digital World and go back to living directly with nature. Right? If it’s so bad and we know we’re healthier the more we move around throughout our day then isn’t that the best solution? We could be drinking free fresh unpolluted water out of rivers and streams, and eating free fresh unaltered, uncontaminated foods from the ground. We could hunt free unmodified wild game. That’s where my vote goes, I’d love to live that way―however, the truth is I don’t know exactly how to live off the land. I would have to watch a lot of YouTube videos to learn how to survive in the wild.
That brings me to option number two: we find a way to use the Digital World to aid our species in growth. How do we use the Digital World Reality to make our Waking World Reality better?
Lucky for you I’ve found a loop-hole. See the fun thing about perception in the digital world is we have control over it. Sure we can lie and cheat in the Waking World, but really even if you’re seeing something fake―what you see is what you get. Dreams are just for you, other people don’t get to see your dreams. In the Digital World Reality we have full control over the way things are perceived.
We control what pictures we post, we control how we look in those pictures. We can Photoshop out pimples and acne and throw a filter over the images. We control what videos, music, links we post, and we control who gets to see them. We also control what we consume. You can make a YouTube play list consisting only of cats playing pianos if that’s the only thing you ever want to experience, and with the exception of ads, that will indeed be the only thing you experience.
If you are familiar with my surreal street photography you can see we’ve already reached an age of the Digital World where we can no longer trust everything we see. You can see this in computer generated images as well as altered images―still and video.
This is where my love hate relationship with the Digital World begins. Because the power to alter someone’s perception of reality can be gravely harmful. We already discussed the effects of cyber bullying. There are reports of children dying from complications like dehydration during excessive time spent playing video games. Bigger still we have people drinking beverages that are causing organ failure. We have people eating foods that are causing their hearts to fail.
Heart disease and cancer at the leading causes of death in the United States. And it isn’t like this all over the world. If you go to tribes in South American and New Guinea there are people who will have no idea what heart disease and cancer are. With this great information boom we’ve been experiencing the past decade it’s now common knowledge: the more natural your food, the healthier your body will be. So why do half a million people continue to kill themselves through diet every year? I belief it comes down to one thing: the people in the advertisements look good.
We all know most billboards and magazine images are altered. Advertising firms, commercial directors and editors, these are masterminds at designing perception. The information boom and fictional shows like Mad Men have shown us what lengths companies will go to to make a man desire something he doesn’t really need. And now that people are spending so much time in the Digital World Reality it’s even easier to be fooled.
The first thing that comes to mind when most mention the date Nineteen-Eighty-Four is the fictional novel of the same name by George Orwell. Published in Nineteen-Forty-Nine Nineteen-Eighty-Four features a protagonist named Winston Smith. Smith works for the Ministry of Truth and it is his job to rewrite newspaper articles and alter old photographs to conform to the state’s ever-changing version of the truth. Nineteen-Eighty-Four was the year I was born, and although I hadn’t become familiar with the book until recent years it really resonated with me as I’ve become know for my mastery of seamless photo-manipulation.
In order for anyone born after the turn of the century to better understand my particular perception of reality you must go on a ride with me: I want you to understand what life was like before you arrived on planet Earth.
At the time I was born we had no computer in our home. We had maybe one TV, a phone, and a radio. Tho these things didn’t interest me much. I’d spend my days running around the woods, discovering insects, and climbing trees. I’d see how far I could venture down the creek, and play massive games of hide and seek with the neighborhood kids. We’d go to bonfires and leap from roof tops into giant piles of straw. That was my entertainment.
My neighborhood was so new we were the first people to live on that land since Native Americans. We’d often find arrowheads, peace pipes, and ancient pottery lying in the soil. And in the mid nineties we found Nintendo NES, Sega Genesis, Playstaion 1, Nintendo 64, Goldeneye―and everyone’s interests shifted. We started spending a lot more time indoors. Computers were around when I was in junior high, and when I was in high school the internet boomed. By boomed I mean we had chat-rooms and email. That was fifteen years ago.
Back to the present. I wanna get back to that plant I mentioned in the beginning. If you walk outside right now I guarantee you’re still going to see plants reaching for the sun. Throughout the past fifteen years their inner thoughts have not changed. They’re still chanting, “Reach for the Sun. Reach for the Sun. Reach for the Sun…”
However humans, at this point I might argue, are less intelligent than plants, because somewhere in the past fifteen years we as a species started living less healthy lives. We started giving birth to a generation riddled with more disability, illness, and weakness than previous generations. It’s not the youth’s fault and it’s not even technology’s fault. It’s my generation’s fault, it’s my parent’s generation, it’s my grandparent’s generation’s fault. Because as the Digital World developed people didn’t know exactly what to do with it and a lot of confusion has come about.
When confusion comes about I feel it’s best to get back to nature. Think of the laws of nature. The gravity loop-hole: athletes and animals use gravity to their advantage―whereas couch potatoes see running or walking as an absolute pain. I believe we can use the loop-hole of designing digital reality to our advantage. Don’t do what I did with my surreal art, don’t fool people―art is one thing, art is fun, but manipulating people is risky business. The best thing we can do is use this loop-hole to really hone in on ways we can grow as a species.
Instead of people being weighed down, mislead, and ultimately drained by the Digital World Reality, I believe people living today can use the information boom and digital world to turn ourselves into the healthiest, smartest, most compassionate creatures ever.
For a few years in my mid-twenties I worked as an associate story producer for a reality television company. When you make a reality show you’re typically shooting non-stop footage for two days straight and then cutting that forty-eight hours down to a forty minuet episode. Because you’ve captured so much content at multiple angles you’re then able to alter the way past reality is perceived. You can make a hero look like a villain and a villain look like a saint. This is the same thing I’m currently doing with my art―you capture a mass amount of images and condense them down into one manipulated final image.
If you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etcetera you’re already doing this. You’re the producer of your own reality show. With every status you update or photo you post you’re designing the way the world perceives you. You have the power to make yourself out to be whoever you want to be. And it’s not as simple as lying―you can’t just simply say you’re the greatest runner in the world and expect the Olympic committee to call you up asking you to join Team USA. It doesn’t work like that.
Designing perception in the Digital World Reality is most effective by being open and honest about who you are, what you stand for, and what you want out of life. Say you do want to be an Olympic runner. First try deleting that “cats playing piano” playlist and start seeking out valuable videos on YouTube. Make a playlist of former Olympians giving advice, people talking about nutrition, people talking about the best workout and recovery routines. Soak it all in. And on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat you can post about your goals and the progress you’re making towards your goals. Don’t waste time posting about things you don’t like or things that piss you off―if you do people may start to see you as some victim that never gets what they want.
Use your time spend in the Digital World to make your Waking World life better. The same way good dreams lead to you being well rested, I believe you can focus in on what makes you thrive. By sharing these things you’ll shift the perceptions of friends and family which will create a beautiful spiral effect. I believe the next generation can turn themselves into super-beings.
Be mindful of the person you are in the Digital World Reality, because the person people start to perceive you as, is the person you’ll become.
I personally don’t have an interest in spending much time in the Digital World Reality. It’s my belief that a World that’s been created by man can never be more fulfilling than a World created by nature. And as I put that into text, sitting her typing on my laptop, it makes me wonder: if humans―being a part of nature―are meant to create a world greater than the one they were born into? Like is that our over-all purpose to create our own world? After all, the Digital World Reality is the reason I’m able to share my “perception of reality” with the world. F@#* I can’t tell if all out nature is the path or if the digital world is good. A big fear of mine is leaving planet Earth in worse shape than it was when I was born. Currently the manufacture of smart phones and solar panels causes a great deal of pollution. Tho I could imagine years down the road if we were using solar powered smart phones and charging cars with solar panels we could then find a balance where the eco-system was getting better not worse through technology.
That fear of leaving the world in a worse state then when I arrived is what drives me to be so passionate about the health of our species, and the health of our planet. And I then think about the laws of our Universe, like how nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. And then you have the concept of black holes―heavenly bodies so massive light can’t escape them―so then I think well perhaps all rules of the universe were meant to be broken. The act of being wild is often an act of breaking rules. Like grass growing through a sidewalk crack, wilderness strives for health. Planet Earth, or nature, or Gaia will break all manmade rules for the sake of striving for health.
If you’ve read this far you’re either really into what you’re reading or you’re just waiting to raise hell in the comments section. Thank you for reading this far and at this time I must confess to a brutal truth: I’m fucking with your head. See everything you’ve just read is only my perception of “perception of reality.” Every living thing on Earth would describe their own ideas on perception of reality tailored to what they want out of life. Because everyone who is alive today didn’t get here without doing whatever it took to be conceived. It’s not really just a matter of me fucking with your head, we’re all fucking with each other’s heads. The act of being manipulative or wild isn’t even our fault―It’s our future children controlling us from within, fighting for a chance at life.
They say when you step back from Earth you see we’re in a spiral galaxy called The Milky Way. I like science and I like learning about our existence, but we can’t really prove that we are living in this spiral galaxy without really going far away from Earth.
Really it’s all what you believe. Pain is always easier with time, right? And time is distance, time is in fact distance―like traveling so far away from the Earth to see where the Earth sits. The distances of the universe are actually just time.
It takes light time to travel, and again studies tell us nothing can travel faster than the speed of light―except in the case of black holes where an object is so massive light can’t escape its gravitational pull. In that case is gravity traveling faster than light? Anyway, if it takes time to heal from injuries, then why don’t I turn off the TV, and turn off the lights, and light candles, and live completely in the present. Because if my head is in outer space, thinking about our position in the galaxy, what good will that do my body today? I need to live completely connected to the present moment. The person who is most connected to the present is greatest person ever, right? Ever is something that already happened. Ever is really never, without an n. Like now. Now and ever are the same. You can tell yourself: I’m the greatest person ever. Or: I’m going to be the greatest person ever. Or: I am at this very moment, right now, still now, the greatest person ever. Ever is like an ending.
So yes, I don’t want to be thinking about the Milky Way, I want to land my vehicle (my body) here on Earth and soak it all in as best I can. If it is that some people on Earth really are spending more than eight hours a day in the Digital World, that being the bulk of their day, and we are the ones who created computers, and lights―and computers are really just watered down versions of things like lightening, fire, and feelings. The Sun is real like fire is real. Computers are a system of transferring information like feelings are a system of transferring information from your nerves to your brain to your heart. Computers aren’t really that bad. It’s just that we’ve finally found a way to design ourselves and that’s a little freaky. Because if we found a way to design our world then it’s highly likely that some other species on one of the billions of other possible planets designed our world ages ago. And someone that was designed in our world will one day design a future world. And so it is we are meant to design.
You look at the art in the Chauvet Cave, you look at the oldest structures we know of: Göbekli Tepe, Sechin Bajo, the pyramids of Egypt, the temples of the Mayans. Art and architecture were born out of manipulating nature. That’s what we do. Other creatures look for patterns, they survive by feeding off of loop-holes they find. We humans, we create loop-holes.
Figuring out the meaning to life is like finding the loop-hole or bug or glitch to a game―or breaking the task you were meant to do in the game. But how do you get the admiration of the creator of the game? You make the game better, right? What is better? In the game we know as life I believe the aiding of health to all living things would be how we make life better. I dream of a world where health is valued over monetary wealth, where wild-er-ness is more accepted than uniformity. Can’t we all call a truce and stop manipulating each other for the sake of profiting off each other? I believe it’s time we come together as a species on this planet and make the world better for all living creatures.