Are We In The Real World?

Growing up, haven’t we been all told that we should prepare for the real world? I remember as a student there was always this sense of mystery and curiosity as to what does it truly mean to live in the real world. Aren’t we in the real world now? Surely enough, through age and maturity, we all slowly realized that there’s more to life than school, cartoons, grades, and even the realm of our parents. We also begin to realize the very reason why are elders tried to prepare, even warn us, of what life is like outside the four corners of our home.

We have experienced pain and loss in our own lives but moreover, we also see what that pain can bring to other people. Money, cars, work, career, schooling, and all that brings up to time with the harsh reality of the world isn’t as simple as it seems to be. There’s not enough money for others, people rarely find a career that they call their own, or even others have the difficulty in looking for a job, and so on. These harsh realities make like it seem we know the real world.

But is this really all there is to it?

From the novel The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami there is a scene when the main character’s wife, Kumiko offered a different view of looking at the world. They were on their very first date, Toru (the husband) and Kumiko, and they spent their afternoon in an aquarium. Kumiko was transfixed with the jellyfish that they saw. The conversation is as follows:

“Why do you like jellyfish so much?” I asked.

“I don’t know. I guess I think they’re sweet,” she said. “But one thing did occur to me when I was focusing on them. What we see before us is just one tiny part of the world. We get into the habit of thinking, this is the world, but that’s not true at all. The real world is in a much deeper and darker place than this, and most of it is occupied by jellyfish and things. We just happen to forget all that. Don’t you agree? Two-thirds of the earth’s surface is ocean, and all we can see of it with the naked eye is the surface: the skin. We hardly know anything about what’s underneath the skin.”

Using this analogy to the real world, we don’t really know in detail what’s happening on the other side of the world. “The skin” that we see in front of us may be our immediate family, our jobs, our officemates, the mall that we usually go to, our favorite restaurants, bars, and whatnots. Maybe we fail to realize the other people with their own little worlds. The internet has helped us a lot in viewing other people’s lives abroad but somehow, it’s not enough.

Sometimes we can look at a certain group of people and think that, “hey, it’s weird that they live that way!” Well, not really. It’s weird we live this way. Have you ever stop and think how the world views us? More than half of the world lives on two dollars a day. Two measly dollars or more or less a hundred pesos. Now if we compute and think that a regular working person in our society makes 20-50k pesos a month, that’s a maximum of making nearly 500 times as much as the rest of the world. Sometimes we even have a dumb idea that we’re broke.

I remember when we had an event in Bohol about two years ago. My boss and officemates were working inside an open tent with our laptops, papers, notebooks, and other office materials. After a couple of minutes, we were surrounded by the locals there and they seemed oddly interested in what we were doing. Now where we were wasn’t the typical tourist spot at Bohol, we were a bit far off and it nearly takes 2-3 hours from the airport. The locals weren’t necessarily poor but they all had the look in their faces when they were watching us. I can imagine them seeing a laptop and think “wow, you’re one of the three people that have that here?” Well, at least that’s what they saw on their faces. It was a very interesting experience.

I guess my point is that there’s a whole other world for us to go to despite our own. Because of the ins and outs of life, we can get caught up and be selfish. Maybe sometimes we can be overly concerned on our standard of living and not actually living.

So what’s the real world? I’m not sure really. But I know there’s more to what I see everyday in my life. There are jellyfish, things, and most importantly people that we have to consider.







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