Life is a subjective experience and that cannot be escaped.
This truth is becoming more and more clear to me.
I recently visited a friend who lives in a place of complete disrepair, dirt and discomfort.
In my opinion.
However, because I love her so much, I listened to her perspective of her home. She feels such gratitude for her heavenly, peaceful retreat. While she shared that she dreams of having a functioning kitchen, she simultaneously acknowledged the enormous improvements in her home already. She has a vision of what it is to become and in the meantime she is surrounded by her books, music, art and her home-made gourmet meals.
This was a powerful example to me that every experience I have comes through my own, personal, unsharable viewpoint.
There can be no peer reviews of my direct experience, no real corroboration. This has some major implications for how I live my life. The most immediate one is that I realize I must trust my own personal experience, because nobody else has this perspective, it is all mine.
Another is that I feel more wonder for the world around me, knowing that any “objective” understanding I claim to have of the world is built entirely from scratch, by me.
Of course I am influenced by my culture and environment. Whether I live in Indonesia, Africa or wherever, I will take on that culture’s viewpoint and thought-patterns. But overall what I build depends on the experiences I’ve had, the books I’ve read, and the people I’ve met.
This means I will never see the world quite like anyone else, which means I will never live in quite the same world as anyone else — and therefore I mustn’t let outside observers be the authority on who I am or what life is really like for me.
This means that I must stop judging others!! I absolutely, positively must stop acting as the authority on everyone’s life, because I do not know their viewpoint, background, purpose or goal in life.
This leaves me with the responsibility for my own life, determining what is right for me without hurting others, yet being discerning about what I want to surround myself with.
No one can tell me what I should do, nor can I tell anyone what is in their best interest. That is why a good counselor or therapist will listen, truly listen to your subjective life experience and elicit the best answer for you.
Subjectivity is primary experience — it is real life, and objectivity is something each of us builds on top of it in our minds, privately, in order to explain it all.
This truth has world-shattering implications for the roles of religion and science in the lives of those who grasp it.
This contemplation was written in conjunction with a piece by David of Raptitude.