Our Picture Of The World Is Never Complete

Our picture of the world is never complete. It can’t be. In every situation, we’re physically and cognitively incapable of detecting and decoding and understanding 100% of the information being passed along to us. Of all the sensory richness in the world around us, only a fraction gets through to our perception. Our neurology comes up short, millions of times a day. Our minds do too, more often than we guess. Shortages of time, attention, abundant interruptions interruptions, distractions, changing priorities, and fragmented, fraught interactions also keep us from fully processing all the details of our lives.

Whether you’re squinting at sheep and mis-counting them, or your neurotransmitters are getting lost / diverted across their synaptic clefts, data is data, distance is distance, and loss is loss. The potential for fragmentation is always there, and on some level, we know it. We realize we don’t have quite enough information to make up our minds about whether to leave a job. We know we still have lot to learn about a house we’ve just moved into. And while getting soaked in the pouring rain might not be your first choice, when it happens, you’re not thrown into a philosophical tailspin, doubting the very nature of your existence. You missed the weather report. Nothing more. It’s to be expected.

No matter how close we are – or how sure we are – there is always the chance that we’re missing something. Separation and distance lead to degradation of signals, loss of critical data, breakdowns in communication, giving us an incomplete and/or flawed view of the world and how best to engage with it. It might be such a tiny detail (the exact hue of a blade of grass) that it makes no difference. Or it could be a big deal, like the silence of the emptying parking lot around you and the looming storm clouds overhead. The point is, it’s unrealistic to be 100% certain about any of our perceptions. The synaptic cleft is an open system, and there’s no guarantee all the data will survive the trip. Likewise, your state of mind or body may cause you to miss or misinterpret what you do perceive. It’s not the end of the world – just the limits of your inherent capacity.

That’s not a very comforting thought for most people. We like to be sure of ourselves. We want and need to trust our senses. The all-encompassing nature of our separation can get scary, when we think about it… if we ever do. We need to know we can rely on something, that it there is at least one dependable presence in our lives. We need to believe we know what we saw. We need to believe our own eyes. We need to be able to say, “I know what I heard,” and have others agree with us as well, that we … know. If you can’t trust your closest senses to be immediate and infallible, what can you trust? If you can’t rely on your closest friends, and loved ones for direct support, who can you turn to?

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