Perception Might Be Reality, But It Doesn't Work The The Other Way Around

Perception Might Be Reality, But It Doesn't Work The The Other Way Around

Perception is reality, and when we perceive things are bad, we tend not to look at the reality.


The nation is looking back today and meditating, reflecting on the events of 9/11 and what it has come to mean for our country, our culture, and our personal lives. On the other hand, I don't feel the need to relive the events, and I don't want to feed corporate news ratings that are rehashing the entire thing to ramp up viewership. Instead I'll have a private moment of reflection, and look at how my life has transpired since those events...and I'm going to take a little advice from Louis CK, from his appearance on Conan. A lot has changed in ten years, and it might benefit some of us that have lost sight of how life used to be, and what has been lost, to appreciate what we have now. I'll start.My laptop. I remember in 2001, I owned a five year old desktop that could barely run America Online (which was dial-up) and it was absolutely one of the three things I would've saved from a fire. It had maybe a dozen pictures that I'd managed to scan and e-mail to myself, and no music. (I had missed out on Napster.) This computer also took 10 minutes to boot up. I'd often use the restroom and fix a sandwich (in that order) while waiting. My laptop today holds every photo, video, and song that I own, it's portable, and rather than having to listen for the crunchy song of the dial-up internet, my laptop finds a wireless signal for me. Of course, that doesn't stop me from cursing if there isn't a free wireless network (or at least, an unprotected one) nearby. I curse the laptop if an application freezes (remember when they were called "software programs"?) and if the battery is low I consider it a hassle to get out the adapter...because I have to get up.

My cell phone. Remember answering machines? I remember coming back to my dorm room and seeing the little flashing red light and listening to the message from hours before. A game of phone tag could last days. Today, if there's news, I've texted my extended family and had a discussion with my wife between leaving work and getting home. I don't remember the last time I couldn't find reception for my cell phone, and if I'm lost I can literally ask my phone where I am. Have you noticed how women joke less and less often about men's refusal to stop and ask for directions? GPS has changed all that. Of course, if an app doesn't open right away or quits unexpectedly, or if a phone call is dropped (which hardly ever happens anymore), I swear off this amazing little piece of handheld technology as a piece of junk and threaten to upgrade. And how about that word? "Upgrade". Ten years ago I only really heard it when I was being asked if I wanted to pay the airline more to sit in business class. Now it's become a cultural buzzword that means, "better than what you

My life. I complain about too much work and too little pay, about not seeing friends enough or those responsibilities that I feel are hanging over my head. I complain about the country, about our government, about big businesses and feeling short-changed. Really, though, a little perspective helps. I wasn't around to see it, but the last time we had an economic collapse of this magnitude (and from nearly identical systemic problems) it was 1929 and we had 25% unemployment, compared to our 9.1% now. People starved to death and whole families slept in alleys and fields. I won't say that things aren't tough for a lot of people, but not like that. Our two wars have been costly, to be sure, but not nearly as much as any one of the wars of the previous century (not counting the Gulf War). Most of us now have access to the internet, which places nearly everything we would want to know within seconds (minutes at the public library) of our eyes, where before that information might have been withheld from certain segments of our population. Environmental protections, despite our current congress's efforts, are ahead of where they were just ten years ago; and the movement has grown to become a mainstay value of both the nation and even world religions. I can't remember the last time I saw someone throw anything bigger than a cigarette butt out a car window. We're healthier, materially wealthier, living longer, better connected, and more involved than we ever have been.

I reject the notion that to pay homage to those people that have suffered or died in the past ten years as a result of our country's "progress", we need to relive those events and the subsequent mistakes we have made. Appreciating one's place in the world, and measuring every day by the good in our lives, rather than the bad, is the best way to honor everyone, victims and heroes, that have made our lives what they are today.