Living out the reality of my life is to accept that everything I encounter is nothing other than myself. It means that everything that I experience is a part of me: good or bad. In fact, the more I live in this manner, the more I realize that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not apt descriptions of my experiences nor my life.
What does it take to “live out the reality of my life”? First and foremost it means to gain self-awareness. It means to be present within myself, to comprehend and experience myself fully. In order to do so, I must go beyond the intellectual understanding of who I am. I must go into my shadow, while also embracing my light. It means to allow my heart to deepen such that there is no judgment, just acceptance.
Second, it means to live in the now, in the present moment. By living in accordance with the now, it allows me to focus on what is in front of me. Not the stories I tell myself, of the past or the future, of what could have or should have been. There are no “ifs” or “buts”, just what is. Far from resignation, this way of living is about acceptance and embracing that every moment is the only moment that exists. To live in this manner is to embrace my potential as an actualization of the now.
To achieve the actualization of the now, I have framed my exploration on the basis of two questions, which are relevant when deciphering what constitutes my reality:
What is the chance reality at any given moment?
What is the undeniable reality of any given moment?
By chance reality, I mean the reality that is absolutely random. That is to say, these realities do not have a direct correlation to me, yet I make sense of them by constructing a logical sequence of thoughts that eventually become the narrative of my life. All along, this narrative is made up of disconnected events, happenings, situations, etc. of which I decipher into meaningful fabrications. Once understood as meaningful and relevant, I attempt to make the chance reality my full reality. The problem in doing so is that often this reality is only a distraction that takes me away from truly understanding the reality of my life.
By contrast, the undeniable reality is the reality that is relevant to me regardless of how I feel towards it. This reality does not need to be analyzed or deciphered, as it is ever-present. More so, the forces that constitute this reality are at play regardless of the narratives I construct or the way I interpret events or situations. The undeniable reality of my life exists beyond the awareness I might have of it.
In order to move forward with my quest for understanding and accepting the reality of my life, both of these realities need to be studied, as together they help frame the patterns of my life. The interplay between both sets of reality can draw a comprehensive picture of my life, such that it prioritizes what is relevant and let’s go of the delusions that cloud my understanding and awareness of the self.
To bring these two questions to bear on the understanding I have of what it means to be alive, what my reality is, or who I am, I sought to apply these questions onto four different frameworks.
1.Impermanence: the belief that everything living will die and change is constant.
2.Suffering: life is full of suffering because we do not understanding living and dying.
3.Emptiness: the belief that in emptiness, we will find all the possibilities of life.
4.Everything is as it is: the belief that when we let go, we accept that everything is as it truly is.
These four frameworks are derived from Zen Buddhism and over the course of several years have become the guiding principles by which I conduct myself and learn to accept life. In challenging my understanding of these principles, I am seeking to recalibrate and remain awake to how my reality unfolds.
The work included in this show (and presented here in this book), is not a conclusive and finite statement of my life, but rather a momentary snapshot of my reality. It might be best to consider this work as a reflection of the process designed to further awaken my awareness and ability to accept life. This process is never-ending yet with compassion and dedication, every step gets me closer to my goal: living out the reality of my life.