The Nature Of Reality

By Tim Hayakawa

Is reality objective or subjective?

When it comes to people, I think realities are largely self-determined by individuals’ perceptions, fears, hopes, interpretations, inclinations, longings and aspirations.

Take my college buddy Norm, who, shortly after getting married (while I was still single and desirous of a future family), told me, “Being married is no better or worse than being single. It’s just different.”

Years later, during an idle conversation, he told me about a once-wild and freewheeling friend, who since had settled down, advised him, “The three worst things you can do in life are get married, buy a house, and have kids.”

I, now with a wife and three kids (we rent our house), by contrast, consider getting married and having kids to be among the top four best things I did in my life. Topping my list are putting my faith in God and entrusting Him with everything.

Whose reality is real?

Norm mocks and ridicules me for my faith, which makes me laugh, but he concedes that because so many billions of people believe in Christ, Christianity must be real. He even admits that there could be a living, redeeming God who enables believers to enter Heaven, but he still considers the Bible to be nothing but poppycock.

I don’t follow his reasoning, but I find it interesting that rather than exploit his belief in supernatural self-determinism by shopping for a faith with the most attractive outcomes (a la Woody Allen’s character in Hannah and Her Sisters), he chooses naturalism and polytheism and sees death only as a stepping stone to nothingness of soul and decomposition of body.

“After I’m dead,” he said with a loose chuckle once, “run me through a wood chip-per — it’s good to add gray matter to the compost.”

Norm does believe in doing right by others and can be very generous with his worldly wealth because he believes “what goes around comes around.” Yet, his explanations for how this works in context of his religious beliefs don’t quite make sense to me.

So whose reality is real? Might they all be real?

Might human reality, like beauty, lie merely in the eye of the beholder?

And might one reality be no better or worse than any other, but just different?

In this life, it seems, we all get to more or less create and choose our own realities. And that’s no poppycock.

Tim Hayakawa is an accountant who blogs at

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