We’re Not Here to Accept Reality – by Jesse Wolf Hardin
We’re Not Here to Accept Reality
by Jesse Wolf Hardin
Since I was a little kid, people have been telling me to get more practical, tone down my expectations and accept reality. There is something to be said for such advice, given my impractical and expectant history.
Practical? It’s true that I repeatedly chose the adventure of life over school, and barely-paying work like art and writing over basically anything that might actually have made me a decent living. Like the scene in the great “Legends of the Fall” movie, I would sit for hours in front of the gelled oatmeal or waxy canned carrots rather than get it over and eat them like a good boy. I still can’t fix our Jeeps when they are frequently in need of repair, and sabotage at least one potentially profitable arrangement per month by insisting on putting honesty and honor ahead of civility and income. I am admittedly far better suited for shooting recalcitrant old appliances than for fixing them, and can’t leave this desk for any outside chore without ending up on a long unplanned walk or spending hours sitting gazing at critters and flowers.
Too high of expectations? I suppose, though I don’t really “expect” so much as require what some might consider to be too much: That people be real with me, whether sweet or obnoxious. That the conversations that take up part of my finite life be either relevant, meaningful or both. That the fruit in my bowl be bite-able and not literally tasteless plastic decoration. That my child be protected from all threats, and that I effectively guide her past her own corridors of darkness or doubt more ably than I have ever helped anyone. That I live up to my ever greater standards for authenticity and responsibility, no matter how high the price. That the government, if it cannot truly represent me, at least back off enough to give us room to do the right thing. That I can and will spend the rest of my days in this place that I so love and so deeply learn from, and that with all my unpalatable orneriness and outlaw zeal, I will be loved enough to have my bones interred among the roots growing down into this special land. Even more than expecting, I ridiculously insist upon freedom, liberty and both nature-given and constitutionally-given rights. I insist on the existence of undeveloped and ungovernable places that show us what we are made of, and on my taking every opportunity to naturally discern, choose, manifest, improve, heal or create…
But learn to accept the way things are, in a time with so much we think and are told is a lie? When so much that is beloved is endangered? When so much that is irreplaceable is vanishing, from crucial fertile soil to quality regionally-produced products, from personal liberties to essential wisdom and values? When legislation is continuously enacted by both governing parties of this country, increasingly micro managing every aspect of human existence and experience? When somewhere, every day of the year, little girls are being abused and scarred for life? When our taxes are used to prop up mismanaged banks, fund bizarre studies, and bankroll wars that are questionable in necessity and inevitably poorly managed? No way! In this case, I am unquestionably guilty as charged, guilty of seeing reality as a shifting field that we are each and every one of us responsible for the constant co-creation of. It’s vital that that we as individuals, Americans and humans, learn to set aside our comforting illusions and state foisted untruths, be honest with ourselves and deal with what is. On the other hand, honestly recognizing and dealing with isn’t the same as “accepting” reality as it is. It is for us as conscious, caring and thinking beings, to make choices and act with the intent of changing what needs changing, resisting what needs resisting, and personally contributing to the goodness and wholeness around us through whatever great or minor means.
When I was a partying-too-hearty youth, an “altered reality” was something brought on by too many hours at the wheel of a car, or from drinking hallucinatory Tequila or even less socially respectable attitude adjusters, and anthropologists still use the term to describe their Native American subjects after a hot sweat lodge or days of dancing skewered to a Sun Dance pole. To my current way of seeing things, however, all reality is actually “altered reality,” in that it’s affected by both what we do and what we fail to do, as well as by how we perceive and the ways that we’ve been trained to think. Our lives, our future and our world need not be only a result of fate, outside forces and circumstance, but also a product of our wisdom, intention, will and action. By whatever divine or otherwise amazing force you think we are here, we are blessed with the awareness of choices and are thereby made responsible for them. We all help to alter unfolding reality whether we’re conscious of it or not, and whether we like it or not. The option is for us to make our effects deliberate and informed, purposeful and will-full.
If much we hear on the news shows sound like somebody’s nightmare made real, it’s because it is! And just as our fears, hatreds and illusions are recreated in day to day events, so can our best intentions, hopes and dreams help in part to create a present and future reality that we all can fully live with. We’re not here to accept reality, but to each do our individual and collective part to help change it.
I close, unapologetically accepting nothing at face value, filled with the (okay, impractical!) expectation of helping to make things better.
-Best always, JWH
(Above will appear in Jesse’s upcoming book for the general public “The Town that Waves”)
(Freely Post and forward)
Categories: Practicing Animá Lifeways