Telling voices Friday Review

What reality are you creating for yourself?

Isaac Lidsky reiterates what philosophy had declared enigmatically when he says, “Sight is an illusion…to create the experience of sight, your brain references your conceptual understanding of the world, other knowledge, your memories, opinions, emotions, mental attention. All of these things and far more are linked in your brain to your sight. These linkages work both ways, and usually occur subconsciously. So for example, what you see impacts how you feel, and the way you feel can literally change what you see. Numerous studies demonstrate this. If you are asked to estimate the walking speed of a man in a video, for example, your answer will be different if you're told to think about cheetahs or turtles... We have arrived at a fundamental contradiction. What you see is a complex mental construction of your own making, but you experience it passively as a direct representation of the world around you. You create your own reality, and you believe it.”

Who is Isaac Lidsky? One answer is that he runs a big construction company in Florida. Another answer is that he graduated from Harvard in math and computer science. But there is more to him.

Lidsky goes on to say, “…sight is just one way we shape our reality. We create our own realities in many other ways. Let's take fear as one example. Your fears distort your reality. Under the warped logic of fear, anything is better than the uncertain. Fear fills the void at all costs, passing off what you dread for what you know, offering up the worst in place of the ambiguous, substituting assumption for reason…Fear replaces the unknown with the awful. Now, fear is self-realizing. When you face the greatest need to look outside yourself and think critically, fear beats a retreat deep inside your mind, shrinking and distorting your view, drowning your capacity for critical thought with a flood of disruptive emotions. When you face a compelling opportunity to take action, fear lulls you into inaction, enticing you to passively watch its prophecies fulfil themselves.”

Lidsky says that to live life realistically without falling into the above traps can be learnt. And he gives some tips, “Hold yourself accountable for every moment, every thought, every detail. See beyond your fears. Recognize your assumptions. Harness your internal strength. Silence your internal critic. Correct your misconceptions about luck and about success. Accept your strengths and your weaknesses, and understand the difference…Your fears, your critics, your heroes, your villains — they are your excuses, rationalisations, shortcuts, justifications, your surrender…they are fictions you perceive as reality. Choose to let them go…”

Lidsky points out that our lives are full of assumptions, “We make assumptions and faulty leaps of logic. We harbour bias. We know that we are right, and they are wrong. We fear the worst. We strive for unattainable perfection. We tell ourselves what we can and cannot do...”

When Lidsky went completely blind at the age of 25 due to a rare genetic disease, he did not listen to his fears telling him that his life had ended and that from now on it would be a quiet, anonymous and lonely struggle. He instead learnt, “…that what we see is not universal truth. It is not objective reality. What we see is a unique, personal, virtual reality that is masterfully constructed by our brain…I chose to step out of fear's tunnel into terrain uncharted and undefined. I chose to build there a blessed life…I share my beautiful life with Dorothy, my beautiful wife…” Lidsky and Dorothy have triplets and a baby daughter.

Therefore it is that Lidsky spoke about reality and the illusions we create for ourselves. He asks. “What do you fear? What lies do you tell yourself? In your career and personal life, in your relationships, and in your heart and soul, your assumptions do you great harm. They exact a toll in missed opportunities and unrealized potential, and they engender insecurity and distrust where you seek fulfilment and connection. I urge you to search them out.”

A powerful and touching talk.

sudhamahi@gmail.com

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Printable version | Nov 17, 2020 3:56:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/What-reality-are-you-creating-for-yourself/article16076800.ece

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