Writing from the Heart: (Un)reality

It’s ok to be confused … it’s ok to not know.


The movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is nominated for an academy award. My husband and I just might be the only people who didn’t love it. We just didn’t get it.

It reminded me, with its multidimensional-time-traveling-hard-to-follow craziness, of a youtube video I had recently watched of the philosopher and writer Alan Watts.

Here’s a direct quote from that video; “Most civilized people are out of touch with reality because they confuse the world as it is with the world as they think about it.”

(He’s right. I’m already confused). He said there is a whole system of symbols about the world which we have in our “minds.” Now I’m wondering if my world of symbols is up to snuff (Okay, I love this guy, but he gets so complicated).

I love him because he is so much like my teacher, Ram Dass. The personalities of these two guys couldn’t have been more different. Alan Watts is from the 50s and was “veddy, veddy” British and Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert) is from the 60s and a Newton Bar Mitzvah boy. Both of them speak to me like no other dudes in my entire spiritual-seeking life.

Watts says as soon as you name and describe a reality, you’re really describing a philosophical concept. And reality itself is not a concept. ( O dear, it’s not?)

Similarly, Ram Dass says naming or labeling limits a thing. Saying something is good or bad puts a judgment on the event or object, and then the supposed reality is about your opinion or your perception or your preconceived notion (that I get).

They’re both big meditators, something I’ve been tussling with for over 40 years. Watts says meditation is the way that we come to feel our basic inseparability from the whole universe (I want to come to feel this inseparability but it hasn’t happened yet).

He says most of us think compulsively all the time. (what a relief. I thought I was the only one with the constant chatter). But he actually says there’s no future and there’s no past. That meditating brings you into the eternal now. So while I am listening to him, with my “mind” once again being blown, I am also thinking (compulsively) that I forgot to get the Parmesan Reggiano at Cronigs.

Ram Dass talks about how, if you quiet the mind, you are in the present moment, which he says is the only moment there is.

When I am meditating and actually still for two consecutive seconds, the idea of an eternal now is exquisite. In those moments, having no future and no past makes total sense to me. But then how does that work when I have to make a dentist appointment (in the future) or a ferry reservation (also in a future)? How does it work when I look at pictures of my sister and me from the past … if there’s no past?

OMG! Help me. It’s too much.

Today walking down Flanders Lane, I saw three clumps of daffodils about to bloom and I thought, “Oh, you poor darlings. You must be so confused. First it’s cold, then it’s warm, then it’s freezing.” And then I thought of my two great teachers. What would their take be on seeing buds ready to burst with snowflakes falling all around? Would they say since there’s only the “now” then they won’t bloom or freeze. And how do I know what those daffys are feeling? I’m putting my spin on their experience. And maybe they’re even saying “O, March, I always wondered what it would feel like to flower in early March.” How do I know? How does anyone know? Anything!

There are so many ways to look at the big questions like “What’s it all about, what’s the meaning of life, what are we doing here, is there a parallel universe, are we simply holograms?”

I’m not used to being uncertain. I don’t like it. Being confused, ambivalent, and altering what I think is not my style.

But I can’t decide what I believe and what reality actually is. It just keeps changing depending on who I’m listening to. Maybe I’m just “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

No wonder I didn’t get the movie.



  1. Oh Nancy,

    I’m with you. I’ve yet to see the movie. All the clips, to me, are weird. Your musings about Ram Dass and Alan Watts make sense, also. I just keep on keeping on without dwelling too long on the unexplainable. I, too, meditate……sometimes. This is an amazing universe with far more curiosities than certainties.

    Much love,

  2. Hahaa. I love your stories which are so relatable, heart warming and that leave one feeling not alone and uplifted.
    And you and Joel are not alone….my husband and I started to watch EEAO and turned it off after 20 minutes. Same sentiments with meditation though I keep trying.

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