Just Like the Uniqueness of Human Fingerprints, No Two People Share the Same Version of Reality

Is the integrity of “reality” compromised because it’s different for every person on Earth?

One of the subconscious questions that we movie watchers love to deal with is “What is reality?”  Maybe the main character was actually dead the whole time.  Maybe the whole thing was a computer-generated reality that took place centuries after the main character died.  Maybe the setting wasn’t really the 1800’s, but instead current day the entire time.  These movie twists are interesting because they reveal our fascination with the fact that “reality” is more of an idea and less of a certainty.  Even if most people agree that this world we all live in is indeed reality, there is still the afterlife (or “after reality”) to consider, which completely complicates and enhances the importance of reality.

These thoughts about reality, the meaning of life, and the afterlife are unavoidable at some point in life, for most people.  When someone we are close to dies, our thoughts have to at least consider for a few minutes what happens next for that person.  But even in its simplest form, it’s still difficult to grasp the fact that reality, if nothing else, is different for every person on Earth- and therefore, reality is a static thing, even if most of us agree what reality generally is.  So why is reality so different for each individual?

Sometimes when I read, I come across a quote that I wish I would have thought up myself.  Last week as I was reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman, hidden somewhere in the middle of this random yet organized book (page 169) I found this nugget of epiphany: “The strength of your memory dictates the size of your reality.”

For a guy like me who is arguably only a few notches away from being Aspergers, with a vibrant memory of details of my life all the way back to my 2nd birthday party in 1983, my obsessive habits regarding pop trivia, and my natural ability to memorize Wikipedia highlights, it could be said that if the above quote is true, then the size of my reality is pretty large.  But even if you’re not a walking Wikipedia like me, you still have used your memory to save meaningful information (like certain things you learned in your highest level of education, as well as social cues and expectations) along with meaninglessinformation (like who won the Super Bowl in 1997 or who Jake Pavelka chose on the finale of The Bachelor).  The purposeful along with the pointless are both mixed together along with memories from your life that for whatever reason are not forgotten.  These are some of the major ingredients that make up an individual reality.

But even if we can’t all share the same reality (which would be beyond boring), through our meaningful human relationships we can form a similar version of reality.  For life to have meaning, life must be shared: The more shared experiences people have with each other, the greater their shared reality is.  Our friendships, our families, our political affiliations, our religious organizations… they all help make reality a reality.


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Manspeak, Volume 0: Introduction

Amidst the beer can-crushing chauvinist, the dead beat dad, the neurotic Michael Scott type of boss, the wimpy emo kid, and every other kind of negative or less-than-positively-masculine stereotype of a what a man can be, there is actually a realistic collection of males that serve as the standard of what most men truly are or at least should be. They are not necessarily heroes or saints. They are still full of flaws. But they are sincere.

And misunderstood. And given a bad name as they are often judged by their worst specimens. To make things more complicated, when a man tries to explain his feelings he often enters a territory of being seen as “sensitive”. And that word has a negative connotation these days for men. He wants to be a good man, but if he wanders too close to the edge of being of safe, he may be labeled as boring. Or a lover of musicals.

Being a man means having to constantly find the balance in between double standards, paradoxes, and damning extremes.

If a man is too aggressive, he’s a tyrant. If a man is too passive, he’s a pushover. If he’s too understanding of others, then he may become The Good Guy or “Mr. Perfect”, and is ironically considered sub-par compared to the dangerous, adventurous, and often offensive men of society. Where does a man end up? As the Bad Boy or as the Good Guy? Both have negative and positive qualities. What does the balance look like?

What started as a two page article on the importance of a man speaking has oddly evolved into a shot at understanding this ultimate balance of what society truly wants, needs, and is looking for in men. I laughed when it got to the point I finished my 10th volume in the series, as I thought to myself, “Of all people, how am I qualified to write about manhood?”

I don’t know much at all about cars, sports, hunting, or home repairs. I hold no specialized degree in psychology. All I am is a writer who is trying to materialize how I, as a man, think and act. And what I have learned so far is that I am simple and often clueless.

That’s when it hit me. I AM qualified. Because I am simple and clueless.

I don’t know who won the Super Bowl in 1997 or how to install a hardwood floor. I don’t claim to understand women. But I do have an understanding of what excites me, what motivates me, what insults me, what confuses me, what baffles me, what hurts me, and what helps me. While I have always been a little off-beat, that doesn’t change my hard-wiring. I’m still a guy.

One thing I can do is express myself through writing. And on behalf of men everywhere, provide a voice for them, since honestly speaking about our feelings is both difficult and dangerous. What’s most ironic is that in actuality, I have learned that more women read my Manspeak series than men. And I am honored to be the official spokesman for the Average Joe. Not a professional. Just qualified by default.

Men need to see an end in sight. They need to know when the story will end. When I am doing household chores, I have to have a list I can check off as I go. I can’t simply “straighten up the house”. Otherwise I am overwhelmed and nothing really gets done.

I figured Manspeak would never up end being more than 10 volumes. But I realize now that this is an open-ended series. It could end after 20 volumes. Maybe 50. It could eventually become a published book. But even then, I feel like I will still keep coming up with one more volume. For every week that goes by, I realize another quirky aspect about myself. And that new truth usually translates over to most men.

But maybe one day I’ll actually finish the final volume of Manspeak. If men really are as simple and easy to figure out as I say they are, I should be finishing up any minute now…

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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Manspeak Table of Contents

Volume -1: Boyspeak: http://wp.me/pxqBU-9d
Volume 0: Introduction http://wp.me/pxqBU-8G
Volume 1: Humor http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i
Volume 2: Heroism http://wp.me/pxqBU-1m
Volume 3: Filtration http://wp.me/pxqBU-1p
Volume 4: Stance http://wp.me/pxqBU-1s
Volume 5: Movement http://wp.me/pxqBU-1v
Volume 6: Law http://wp.me/pxqBU-3h
Volume 7: Bromance http://wp.me/pxqBU-3W
Volume 8: Relaxation http://wp.me/pxqBU-6a
Volume 9: Appearance http://wp.me/pxqBU-6f
Volume 10: Exploration http://wp.me/pxqBU-6O
Volume 11: Responsibility http://wp.me/pxqBU-8v
Volume 12: Transparency http://wp.me/pxqBU-8J
Volume 13: Composure http://wp.me/pxqBU-8N