“The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense, whereas reality never makes sense.” -Aldous Huxley
Reality is a strange thing.
One upon a time I lived in a country and worked at a job and thought that this was where I would stay and where I would work until I retired. My life made some sort of sense, but then life happened, and now I find myself in another country, living a different kind of life and working in a totally different way.
This type of experience is not unique to me, as the quote from Aldous Huxley shows. Why, we might wonder, is this?
I think it comes down to the following number things:
Experience. We all see life from the perspective of our own experience. If you grow up in the center of a large City, then urban life is all you know. If you were brought up on a mountain ranch in Wyoming, it would be hard to envisage that anything else is possible. Our experience shapes us, but also it can constrain us, simply because our experiences, by definition, finite.
Imagination. Humans seem to be blessed with varying amounts of Imagination. Whilst one City dweller may be able to relate to the story of life on the open spaces of a ranch, another will understand it intellectually, but be unable to really imagine that it is real. Some people say that if we can imagine something, then we can make it real. The reverse seems also to be true; if we cannot imagine things any different than they are, they will stay the same.
Change Happens. In the midst of our daily lives, it is only too easy to think that what is true today, will stay true forever. It is interesting to see how many times people fall into the trap of thinking that things are forever the same, when the truth is that there is constant change. The very thing that we take to be the foundation of our way of life, the thing that we hold to be immutable, is often the one thing that is really built on sand, here today, but gone tomorrow. We can plan for everything, except the unexpected; by definition, that is the one thing that we cannot foresee.
Time takes its own time. Sometimes things change quickly, sometimes slowly. We all know this to be true, simply from our own experiences. When we are busy with a task we enjoy, the time seems to fly past, but when we have a boring, repetitive task, it can seem like every minute is an hour long. In the same way, it is not possible to predict how long time will take to change something. What we think will be a short interlude, lasts many years, whereas a long-term assignment is suddenly terminated. We know change happen, but what we don’t know is when.
Perspective is a wonderful thing. When we look at an event from the outside, we can often see that incident A led to event B, which in turn make C happen. From the inside, however, it often seems more that one thing just comes alone after another, with no rhyme or reason. It is often only with the benefit of hindsight that we have any idea what was happening at all.