In real life, what we think of as “reality” depends upon what we perceive and the meaning we attach to it. Two people may take the same roller coaster ride, but while one thinks the ride was exciting, the other might see the same ride as scary and dangerous. From one objective shared experience we have gotten several different realities. I refer you to the Case of the Amazing Transforming Balloon.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon (it truly was, I swear). I was at my desk staring out the window and brooding over a short story that wasn’t coming together. Somebody in the apartment building next door had nailed a Garage Sale sign upon the trunk of a young tree and attached a blue balloon to it. I watched the wind play with the balloon for a while, then turned back to my work. When I looked up again I saw the balloon – the red balloon – tugging playfully on the string that fastened it to the sign. Last week I had passed my annual eye exam, but I had just mistaken a red balloon for a blue one.
Fifteen minutes later the story still wasn’t coming together so I stood up to stretch my legs. That was when I noticed the yellow balloon tied to the sign. It was definitely, unmistakably yellow. Had someone stolen the blue and red ones? Had they blown away? Was somebody switching balloons around and messing with my mind? I had to know. For the next ten minutes I stayed at the window and followed every move of that yellow balloon as it ducked behind the sign and then reappeared, as if to mock me. Then a gust of wind stronger than the others blew all three balloons around to the front of the sign. The trio of red, blue, and yellow balloons had been tied together, and whenever the wind changed direction the cluster rotated and a different-colored balloon was brought to the front of the sign while the others were trapped behind it. The mystery was solved.
Perception is everything!