Is Reality Really Real?
I watched The Matrix last night for technically the first time, but between the internet and being in the room when my parents have had it on, I’ve seen a lot of it in bits and pieces, and certainly seen all the action scenes, anyways. I’m not here to review it, interestingly enough. I’m here to talk about a central concept, if not the most central concept in the movie.
What even is real? What does “reality” truly mean? This stuck out to me because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for years, and have tried to explain to many different people. It’s a concept that I personally struggle with, because I have a lot of moments that are part of my reality that aren’t real. Real to others, that is.
What the heck does that mean? I’m glad you asked.
I am someone who experiences sleep paralysis. This means that sometimes when I wake up, I can’t move my body, and I am stuck between dreaming and being awake, so I hallucinate things in the real world. You’ve probably heard of sleep paralysis demons, the scary monsters that stand in the corner of your room and stare at you as you’re stuck, paralyzed. That’s what I have! It’s interesting, to say the least.
For me, I not only see these monsters, but hear them sometimes, as well. They’re very realistic, but they aren’t real, of course. But, as mentioned earlier, what is real? Things that are real are things that you can see and hear, right? So, if I can see and hear these monsters, doesn’t that make them real? At least in some capacity?
I also have this neat thing where I can feel physical sensations in my dreams, like pain! Both of these sleep related oddities have been happening to me for around a decade. I have a lot of dreams where I get hurt, or even die. And while I’m sure I don’t feel the pain to the extent that I would in real life, somehow my brain still makes me feel hurt. And it is genuinely painful, sometimes even after I wake up.
Whenever I would try to describe this to people, I would compare it to what I imagine a phantom pain is like for someone who has lost a limb. There is nothing that is actually hurting, no damage, but somehow your brain convinces you that it does hurt, and just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
If I’m experiencing these things, and they affect me in some way, that makes them part of my reality, right? My day to day reality. They’re real to me, the monsters, the pain, it’s real in some form, but only to me. It makes you question what reality even means. What does being real truly mean?
If someone is colorblind and can’t see blue, that doesn’t mean blue isn’t real, it just means that blue is not a part of their reality. Are there colors that are real that non-colorblind people can’t see? If we can’t see them, does that make them not real, even if they are?
Okay, maybe I’m going a little too far, but you get what I’m saying. Bottom line is, everyone experiences reality differently. There is no true real, because real means something different for everyone.
Doesn’t that just trip you out?! I don’t want to say I’m having an existential crisis here or anything, but it really makes you think (plus I have existential crises everyday, so, nothing too unusual). Brains are weird, and that’s really all I came here to say.
Do you experience sleep paralysis? What’s the scariest monster you’ve seen (and have you ever seen any iconic horror characters, like Pennywise or Jason)? Let me know in the comments, and have a great, reality-filled day!