Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

We live in two realities. The first reality is the reality of work, TV, meals, books, sports, bills, appointments, missed appointments, and groceries. The second reality is harder to enter into. It sometimes takes a natural disaster, a major life trauma, losing one's job, losing one's home, losing one's brother or sister or child, before we can enter into this second reality. It is the reality of what really matters, and we usually don't live in this second reality. Most of our time is spent living in the first, the reality of mindless activity. It's easier to enter into; but in fact it is hard to live this way because it is living without meaning, and meaning is one of our fundamental needs.

I think about the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan -- a terrible natural disaster that compelled 2 million people to leave the reality of mindless activity and enter into the reality of what really matters. The reason Kobe sticks out to me is that some businesses actually continued to operate because they invested in sophisticated computer systems to back up their data. What's interesting to me is that while most of the population entered into the reality of what really matters, this privileged few remained in the reality of mindless activity. Is not the reality of what really matters the "true" reality: living in the present, painfully aware of one's mortality, free of hatred, only too willing to assist the people suffering nearby, suddenly prayerful?

After 9/11, people attended churches in surprising numbers -- they had entered into the second reality and realized what really mattered.

I want to live in this second reality always. I want to leave the reality of anxiety over bill payments, mortgages, job security, comparisons, what's new on the Internet, what the American Idol contestants sound like, what's new in the stores. I want to enter into the reality of prayer, closeness to my God, peace, living in this very moment, gratitude for having many of my needs met, closeness to my family, and meaning.


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