Because we live in a chaotic universe, Robert Lowenstein believes we invent narratives to make sense of our surroundings. (“The Stories We Fall For,” by Roger Lowenstein, Fortune, March 15, 2017, pg. 30). I’m inclined to believe him. The world really is of our making. Here’s an example. On a rainy Friday afternoon, recently, I was scheduled to take my 101 year-old-mother to lunch. I didn’t want to go. I was tired. The weather was miserable. I dreaded the effort required to drag my mother’s walker in and out of the car. A hundred grumbling reasons framed the day for discontent.
As it happened, I stopped to read my email before setting out and found a cheery message from a friend. “Hope you have a wonderful afternoon with your mother. How I envy you. I wish I could be a daughter again.”
I wish I could be a daughter again. The words slapped me hard enough to make me catch my breath. Here was a perspective far richer than my self-absorbed discontent. At 80 I was a daughter. Someone in this world loved me unconditionally. How lucky is that? The new perspective colored the day and turned a burden into a joy. I thank my friend for her gift and have stored it, with gratitude, among my thoughts.
For good or ill we create the reality we live in. Take the sinking ship, Titanic. It went down with its lifeboats half empty. (“Gimme Shelter,” by Cory Doctorow, Wired, April 2017, pg. 16.) 1500 people drowned because, in their despair, they failed to see the empty seats available. The tragedy occurred not because they had no means of escape but because they had decided the situation was hopeless. Their truth became their reality, and they drowned.
We are living in a time when truth seems hard to come by. In our frustration, we might become angry, intolerant or devoid of hope. But truth is as relative as Albert Einstein’s equation. The human mind abhors the chaotic universe and builds scenarios to explain the unexplainable. Even science must reverse its truths upon occasion. The universe is infinite, so it must follow there are alternative truths out there. Still, we must choose if we are to live. So, I choose tolerance. I choose hope. I choose to believe there is space for everyone on the lifeboat.