The Lie Of Reality…(and products)
May 13, 2012
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Have you been to the toilet yet? Because this is exciting! You do not want to spoil your experience by being forced to cave in to your natural urges. I in fact hope it is SO exciting that you HAVE to go to the toiled anyways (even though you might have followed my initial suggestion).
This really is more of a calm meditation. A rave on an insight that I really enjoyed and that might be enlightening. So having this out of the way, let me start by asking the following:
What is a product anyway? I think a product is something somewhat standardized of which we expect certain things. Something that can and should be used for a specific purpose (or many purposes).
„Is a stone product?“, you might ask. You can use it as a paperweight. In fact a stone can fulfill a countless number of different purposes. Still that somehow does not make it a product in our mind. To make it a product somebody would have to offer this stone to us (like for mixing concrete out of stones, sand, cement and water): A mining company selling stones to a construction company. But a product does not have to be physical. It can also be something abstract an idea or a concept. Thus I would write a proper definition like this:
„A product is something that helps someone reach a goal“.
For example feeding yourself or being warm when it’s cold outside. When there is no need there can be no product – because nobody would care. When someone becomes aware of a need and cares: then there is room for a product. So mother nature in fact constantly supplies products but without attaching a price-tag reading money.
Now it is getting interesting. Have you ever noticed how concept- and idea-driven most people are? I mean this in a sense that we often treat and see the concept or idea of something as the „real“ thing. Imagine taking a walk with someone and suddenly your look grazes a really beautiful tree. You say to him or her „Wow! Did you notice that tree?“. And they go „Yeah, thats a cedar.“, with a somewhat dry expression in their conduct. Then the shadow of a faint smile hushes over their face and one can almost see them patting themselves on their own back for identifying that tree. „Didn’t you know?“, they might add. Now I see that being able to identify plants can be a good thing for many reasons. Still if overdone and exercising this without detachment – we might be so lost in our own mind and associations that we never notice the actual cedar („tree“ I mean).
I had a very similar situation earlier this night. Having gone to the kitchen to smoke some of the cigarettes I had bought in a strange passion a few days earlier, I was watching the dogs and their people across the little ravine in our backyard. Over there a little path is gently skirting the approaching forest which is much appreciated at almost any time of the day. I felt very acute. Although my thoughts were racing there was an underlying sense of serenity. So I took another drag from the cigarette and doing this – noticed the little lettering right where the filter ends. Only a few millimeters into the white of the cigarette paper I read the logo – somewhat artfully – printed on the cigarette.
I had been thinking about the product design of cigarettes – also noticing the well-meaning negative suggestions saying „This product will lead to addiction FAST. Once you start there’s no turning back. Ever.“ At this moment however – some stray thoughts and unconnected dots found themselves in the same room together and I had an interesting realization. More a battle of impressions and interpretations that was taking place within me – while smoking and looking at that cigarette.
I had always seen and accepted cigarettes as something „normal“ – probably starting when I saw them being smoked by my mother. I just accepted the idea of „a cigarette“ and also the concept of different brands. So I was looking at this piece of paper, tobacco (and god knows what wicked poisons that make the nicotine shoot right up into the center of your brain) and maybe help to deliver on the slogan printed on the outside of the box. I was noticing the somehow not heartfelt and bland print and wiggling it around in my hand pondering that thing. Then a bolt went off in my head. „This is not a cigarette!“, I thought. „It’s only some tobacco, a filter and paper“. Or rather what I was feeling, smelling and seeing – however one might call it. While this might not sound like a profound realization at all – It certainly felt like one. Meanwhile the idea and concept kept crawling back – trying to convince me that in fact this WAS a „real“ cigarette. But to no avail. The direct experience instantly was way stronger and more plastic than my concept. It just permeated it on every level – without me actually doing anything.
Somehow the cigarette had started to feel different. Maybe by asking ourselves how many layers of interpretation and thought-perversion we are remote from actual sensually perceptible reality we can actually take a step towards experiencing what is there for us to enjoy.