Imagination is a very human process, being that it is documented to occur and present itself across every culture and people group on earth. Australian Aboriginees even reckon that imagination and dreaming possess equal validity to experiences in everyday reality. Dreaming and waking are both equally real. Their concept of “dreamtime” is central in their culture and understanding of life; it is when ancestral spirits were said to have created the world. This sacred reverence continues in their culture today, and although European settlers called this mythic, many Aboriginees continue to believe in ‘the dreaming’s’ current manifestations in sacred places on earth, as though dreams come to us like secret messages from another realm. As though dreaming is a crucial part of living.
I have just returned from a whirlwind adventure across the world that is so far beyond me it can only be described as dreamlike. When my life fell apart in my hands, my only response was surrender, and somehow I met God in that moment. Somehow I had enough money all of a sudden, even though I have never been able to save money for any reason. I somehow found myself in the most exquisite parts of earth, exploring India and Africa, all the while falling in love with the people and the cultures. All the while learning more about God and about myself than could’ve ever dreamed of. At times I felt overwhelmed by beauty and almost unable to believe what my eyes were beholding. Sometimes life is so good that it seems impossible for it to be real, it truly can be that amazing.
I think that one of the most normal human responses to living is to marvel at it. Anyone who thinks it’s perfectly normal to be thrust into existence and to be a conscious being with a heart and a brain and free will is a joker. Ahem. I repeat. If you don’t think being alive is weird, you are a joker. You’re kidding yourself!
Sensible people perturb me in this sense. They get under my skin. I hear things like “Well that’s the natural course of natural selection, so of course those fish have no eyes and their bodies glow in the dark catacombs of the deepest ocean caverns.” No appreciation. No regard. You don’t even have to be a creationist really. You don’t! Definitely don’t be one of those loopy creationists whatever you do. The ones whose museums have cavemen riding robotic mammoths and shouting the ten commandments in perfect Hebrew. But for the love of all that is good will you look at the bloody fish and appreciate the fact that it’s actual biological form is producing light?? Or maybe be awestruck when you see something like bioluminescent plankton transfiguring the ocean into a reflection of the universe, dark blue waves that actually sparkle like stars. That is marvelous. Miraculous even. But it get’s disregarded as natural, and it is in fact, but this is precisely what I am trying to highlight with all my exclamatory remarks: the natural is miraculous. People think just because something exists it makes it “natural” or “normal” when truthfully it is mad that there exists glowing fishes. It is mad that the earth is so finely tuned to sustain life that even the minutest change in it’s mass or atmosphere would ruin the planet and everything would die, because somehow, we live. Also, people can saw open a skull and perform brain surgery on an organ that is still largely a mystery to us. I find that uncanny.
Even the natural is beyond us. Even what sits in front of my face. Even my brain that sits in my own head. Yet human advancement has made us so cavalier about the fact we wake up each day and live and breathe. There is no wonder attached to things, except maybe excellent light shows at a Nickelback concert or something. Or excellent rhetoric on public radio. Or a good tractor. Or whatever suits your particular fancy. What I mean when I say that ‘the natural is beyond us’ is that I am a limited being. I am a being in the fact that I am alive, and I am limited in the fact that I am suspended in time in my current form, and I have a certain capacity to which my brain can comprehend the world around me, and the natural realm is too complex and amazing for me to ever fully understand even if I read every book and devoted my whole life to it. More often than not I think this wonder gets omitted from my consciousness, out of convenience or something. As if it is easier to focus my energy on my individualistic problems and forget about the fundamental miracle of life and living. Now, hear me, it is not an altogether good idea to ponder this idea constantly. You might find yourself staring at the sky all day and your neck will get sore. Or worse you might even unknowingly stumble into oncoming traffic. Do not do this. It is merely a point for consideration. And I think it is a good exercise to observe this tendency of human behavior. The tendency is to forget that life is amazing.
Observation ought to occur in any human arena. For instance, I first started observing people recreationally in high school. I skipped many a class to go to the mall and sit in the food court and drink fizzy pop and watch people coming and going. I’d puzzle at their simple lives from my third party perspective, making up stories about who they were and why they were at this accursed mall on a Thursday or whatever. Also I’d ponder the similarity between us all and yet the way some people are so obviously immersed in their thoughts or their current predicament and how some people are so happy to sit down and eat a hamburger. I’d watch men looking at women as they walked by. Or women with children in tow, picking food out of their child’s hair and trying to get them to behave. People eating together, people eating alone. Food courts are very much like watering holes. Allow me to connect the dots. People behave like animals much of the time. This interests me so very much, and how we forget this too. We forget that animals go about their day eating and drinking and mating and nurturing and that our lives are comprised of the same cycles of existing as any other creature mostly. Our bodies are comprised of the same biological material, and we have the same types of organs as any other mammal. And yet we put our pants on one leg at a time and wear certain clothes to this gathering and certain clothes to that occasion and we press our work suits to go to our grey cubicle in the middle of a sea of grey cubicles (this is not meant to depress you about having an office job, that is a perfectly adequate way of making money and I commend you for sticking it out in the middle class and not dealing drugs. Kudos!). However I am trying to highlight how peculiar it is that we are animals and yet abide by things like rules and morality and social structures. We act based on what is deemed ‘appropriate’. We understand the world through these filters and lenses placed in front of us in childhood, and we are socialized and taught to behave in these particular ways in order to advance our society or something. But in doing this, do we also lose perspective?