What’s Your Real?

This morning I reviewed and wrote short annotations on essays about the Scottish poet Robert Burns.

It occurred to me that in my mind, Robert Burns is a major cultural figure and phenomenon whose importance and interest far eclipses that of, say, Katy Perry or even World Cup soccer. I suspect that I’m increasingly in the minority there.

What’s interesting to me about this is not that I am culturally more or less knowledgeable than anyone else. Everyone makes their choices, though many people have to make them within a limited sphere, and I’m relativist enough to say that (for the most part) my choices are no “smarter” or “boring” than most others. What’s interesting to me is how we come to decide what is real.

To me, Robert Burns is real. And he has been since I first heard of him in my early teens. Bear Stearns, as my mind organizes information, is little more than a very bad fairy tale. What those people do to make money (mainly moving chits of paper around, so far as I can tell) is not real. The consequences for people outside of that world, sadly, are real, but that world is less real to me than a poem or novel.

So far as I know, I didn’t choose what would be real to me, or I did so at such a young age that I have no recollection of it, and I’m stuck with it regardless. As I watch my life go by, so many things pass through like ghosts, like translucent phantoms in the background whose whispers I hear faintly but not distinctly. Others are full, glorious color, calling to me directly, specifically seeking my attention.

How did this happen? I have the same background as a lot of people who find very different things to be “real,” and who find the things that are most alive to me to be frivolous, even—worse—dead.

And how does this happen for our kids?

Can homeschooling be a place where our kids, especially as they get older, can hear and respond those things that are alive to them and waving frantically for their attention? Or will it be a place where what is real is what I see, and everything else must be thin illusion? And if I want it to be the former, how will I give good guidance?

And I would like to know, what is real and unreal for you?



Filed under Why Homeschool?

8 responses to “What’s Your Real?

  1. Rex

    Steve’s hair was real.

  2. shaun

    Not as real as his bald head is now — every time I look at him I have to stop and think, “Oh right, he shaved his head, he’s not sick.”

  3. Katy Perry won’t be real in a very short while, but Robbie Burns will stay real. Rest assured.

    Now the World Cup….lol

    Don’t think about what you’re doing and what the Rest Of The World is doing. It’s not worth it. Cling to Robbie Burns. Or my strawberries. 🙂

  4. lapazfarm

    Oh, excellent question! I’ve always felt like my reality is a little bit off of what everyone experiences.
    For me, what is real is nature–plants, animals, fungi, mountains, rivers, oceans. Those are my reality, always have been. I will walk by a spider web and stop to look, then declare “that is a (Genus species)” and people look at me like I’m certifiable. Why? Doesn’t everyone memorize scientific names of spiders??? And trees and flowers and fish??? Doesn’t everyone pick up a rock and immediately want to identify it? Nope. Just me and a handful of oddballs like myself.

    Sports? I couldn’t care less. Hollywood glitz? I just can’t get into it. But give me a rotten stump or a tidepool to explore and I am in my element.
    Oh, and Robert Burns? He totally rocks.

  5. Nature is definitely my older daughter’s reality and the more I experience her gasps of excitement in seeing a new mushroom or finding a cool spider web, the more I notice the intricacies of that reality myself.

    For me the Quidditch World Cup is more real that the actual World Cup. In general stories (whether they are in books, stories we tell each other or stories told through movies or TV) tend to be more real to me than sports or movies stars or fashion or things that so many other people find fascinating and very real for their worlds.

  6. Well, this is something I’ll be thinking about a lot. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about it in just this way — what is Real to me.

    But the answer that leapt up instinctively was: paper.

  7. Loving this post and the replies! Real is my child’s spirit, which I all to often crush in my hurry to move to the next item on the schedule. Thank goodness for resiliance. Real is the sun on my shoulders, the wind in my face, the rain beating down on the roof. Thankfully, the times I ignore them to attend to the minutae of my life don’t make them less so. Real is now, the only moment we have. Thankfully, we’re always able to have that.

  8. Heather Gray

    Fabulous post! I love your writing in this one.

    My real:
    nature – specifically dark birds, the river, sun light, little mushrooms, spiders webs, shade, river rocks, green.

    words – that make sentences. Emerson, Stephenson, Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Christie, Doyle, Yoshimoto

    music – that brings back memories of my hand snaking through the wind on a car drive across Texas, of kissing and crying, and holding back things that are important, and giving in to what you long for.

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