real is relative

January 5, 2013

The danger of loving my work is that sometimes the lens I aim on the rest of my life can get a little stuck and out of focus.


Yesterday, I took myself outside the Green Treehouse for a much-needed New Year’s walkabout.  I get so accustomed to the cozy view from my writing desk looking out my two little windows – both the “real” one and the virtual one –  that I can occasionally forget to take an honest look around the world.

Hours of riding beside my husband as we drove to our families’ homes to celebrate Christmas provided me with plenty of WiFi-free windows of time.  As we journeyed farther north, I watched the scenery transform into snapshots of my childhood. Looking at the well-known landmarks, it suddenly all felt unexpectedly transient and intangible.  Not the trees or the mountains or the sky, but the buildings and the billboards and the exits to the towns I knew so well. This troubled me.

A question slowly surfaced. I began to wonder,

“What is Real?”

The only answer that came to me with any clarity was what Real was not:

Real is not anything man-made. Real is not houses or highways. Real is not cars or careers. Real is not old family photos or even the memories of the times when those cherished photos were taken. Real is not favorite foods shared or even  joyful holidays and traditions. Real is not rooted in gift-giving, although I do rather suspect it can be found somewhere in gratitude –  the non-reciprocal receiving of the loving gifts of others.

(I’m still turning this idea over in my understanding, so I will let you know).

Nor do I believe that “real” can be harnessed in the focused and intentional planning and striving for our dreams. For although our dreams are most certainly real (if they are in fact our dreams and not those that well-meaning others have kindly dreamed for us), all the endless and exhausting “striving for” such dreams is unreal.


It all comes down to our personal lens.  How healthy and effectively we relate to our work, our world and our wonder is directly connected to our present sense of how we see ourselves.

We can love what we do, but what we do cannot define us. Because work is not Real either. It is just work and is also made by us. Our work can be important and rewarding and most certainly for the greater good of all, but it is still simply something that we do rather than who we are.

Along those same lines, we can love our loved ones – our relatives – but our loving them does not make them any more or less “real” either in terms of who they are to us or to themselves.

But Love – love in its purest, most unaltered and natural sense –  is most certainly, most undeniable


Blessings to each of you in the year ahead,



One Response to “real is relative”

  1. Kendall Says:

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