Only My Opinions

Release yourself – You are more than any situation

“We hold the hope that no condition is permanent”. These are words from a song by South Africa’s world acclaimed singer and song writer, Sibongile Khumalo. The song is an emotional reflection on some of the darkest days in the history of our beloved country, and it ends with the expression of the ever present hope that the pain – just like anything else – would come to an end.

Think of two friends, Lindi and Cindy, standing by the window in Sindi’s apartment in the middle of the city, when suddenly they see the leaves of a big tree outside begin to move. There are no other trees in the surrounding area to see if all of them were moving. Being philosophers, they decide not to be perturbed by this and instead, they both decide to go sit on a couch and try to figure out, between themselves, what the possible causes of the moving leaves were.

From the beginning, they realise that the potential causes would be many, and whatever they would finally decide to be the actual cause, would be that whose probability they would both consider to be higher than of all those considered. Sindi then suggests that the movement of the leaves may be a result of the wind suddenly beginning to blow. Lindi agrees that indeed, that was a very likely cause, but goes on to remind her friend that there are still other possibilities, and for the sake of being open minded, they needed to consider all of them. They then decided to give the wind a probability score of 6 out of 10 as the most apparent cause.

Lindi then suggests there might be earth tremors that affect the area where the tree is situated, and not where the flat is. Her friend considers it and decides it is very unlikely but then, since it also falls within the realm of possibility, it was also included. They gave the earth tremors a score of 1 out of 10.  They further considered many other possibilities such as monkeys playing inside the tree; children playing on a swing tied to the tree and accorded a score to each one until finally, they had no more points to give because, in their thinking, they had exhausted all possibilities. Of course, the possibilities are always endless and stretch only to the edge of the imagination while in their case, they only considered the most likely.

Satisfied with their deliberations, it was then time to go outside and establish conclusively, which of those possibilities was the actual cause of the tree leaves moving. On opening the door, Sindi was startled to realise they were actually high inside a tree house, many kilometres above ground. It was a very unexpected discovery because as she knows it, her flat is on the 3rd floor of a tall building in the middle of the city. Confusion and fear set in, considering the possibility of falling from such a great height. Suddenly, Sindi woke up!

She realised she had just had a dream in which her apartment became a house on a very tall tree. She started to recall the other details of the dream; sitting down with her friend and seeing the tree leaves move outside the window. She thought of how they both sat down to consider the possible causes of the leaves moving and to her amazement, she realised how, of all the possibilities considered, they never even once thought it likely that the whole experience was happening inside a dream. She had to accept that regardless of how very real it all seemed to be, it was all a dream. Sindi decided to call Lindi and tell her all about it.

We often wake up from nightmares to be relieved on realising that what we thought had happened, has not really happened in real life, but only in a dream. For as long as we were in the dream, it was all real. Our fear in it and our responses to the danger we perceived, were just as real as the danger itself. Such dreamy experiences, when duly considered, may begin to open our eyes with regard to our conceptions of certainty and absoluteness in life. When we make an effort to remember instances in our lives where we were ever pleasantly surprised by someone or being in a situation that turned out to be more favourable to us, contrary to what we expected, we begin to realise that none of the things we ever say or think about ourselves or in describing our situations is ever the complete truth.

The nature of anything in life, is not only determined by the name we use for calling it, but also by the purpose, space, time and the different circumstances under which we choose to use it. The ever changing situations of our lives, present us with ever changing means through which we could pursue our happiness in them. In that way, something that may be regarded as bad in one situation, could later turn out to be a good thing in another situation.

The fact that any one thing that we ‘know’ could change to become different other things that we neither know nor understand, is cause for much of human discomfort. At the same time, it is also a source of our salvation, because it presents us with a broader array of what each thing is capable of becoming, beyond the one thing that we have decided it to be.  Imagine how life would be for someone, if they always think life is bad and they experience life exactly as they think it is, without any revelation of surprises that may convince them to the contrary.

In our essence, it is enough to know that we are one with each other and with any aspect of creation. However, in the situations in which we live, everything changes from one form to another, to a point where we cannot truly regard anything as being one thing or another, because anything in creation has in itself the nature of other things that we think it is not.

The truth about life is that we don’t quite know what anything in life really is; whether ourselves; the person we are in a relationship with or even the reality of our everyday life situations. Anything we ever say or think about ourselves, anyone or anything, is never the absolute truth, but only a little fleck of what the truth actually is. How we interpret any situation, is only one of the many other available ways in which it could be interpreted and experienced. At the same time, any way in which we interpret a situation, is both valid and real – whether that interpretation is regarded as good or bad.

Who we think we are, what another person, thing or situation is, is only a perspective – a possibility among the vast and endless many others. Any labels we may use to describe ourselves, are not a true reflection of what we really are. We are not necessarily helpless people; poor people; sick people; angry people; sad, needy or unfortunate people. Instead, all of the above are only a part of a broader reality that each of us is capable of being. Within the greater realm of our beings, there are also the best things we could ever aspire for. All the things we could ever imagine ourselves to be, exist within each one of us as possibilities that are waiting to be made real – however unlikely they may all seem, in the situations we are in.

What we need to live through each life experience, is the presence of mind that would help to keep us from being deceived into believing that we are any one situation we ever find ourselves in, or any particular thing that we ever experience in it.

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