• Matt Leppington

How Our Perception Of Reality Is Wrong And Why It Led Me To Travel

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

I can't be the only one who thinks our society is a mess.

I could never understand why everybody simply accepted that we get a job to pay for a house that we live in while we're not working, and a car that we use to drive to work so that we can pay for them both in the first place.

Then we just go back and forth until we die. If we're lucky, we get to retire and become arthritic in a house that we probably don't even own.

It always felt stupid to me. There has to be more to life than that.

A photo from the crater Mount Bromo in Indonesia.
Walking the line between sanity and insanity: two sides of the same coin.

When I was younger, I worried that this was the only way. After all, this is what all the adults said and did. Maybe that's just life? Maybe this futile game of survival was all there was? Maybe we just burst into life, stay here for around 70 years, then fade into the black abyss of eternal nothingness from where we came. Somehow, no matter how it was buttered up, that seemed to be the general consensus.

Through experience, I've learned that this is more of a modern, disconnected cultural belief rather than being based on anything of substance. But it pushed me to question everything else I'd grew up believing. In fact, it pushed me to question everything: from the meaning of life to our interpretation of myth, legend, and ancient history.

When it comes down to it, we know almost nothing. Everything we think we know is based off of theories and ideas that have been taught to us as fact. From the Big Bang to Evolution, barely anything is concrete. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making any suggestions, just approaching the nature of reality from a clean slate. Our attempts to understand it at the moment are feeble at best.

Everybody I've spoken to about searching for universal truth has either told me that I'm wasting my time, or that it doesn't exist. I disagree.

I think there's been a ripple effect from generation to generation throughout history where we've forgotten our own past. If you speak with indigenous people -- take the Maori for instance -- they pass their histories and wisdom down orally. I spoke with the son of a Maori chieftain who told me stories from his ancestors as far back as 300BC!

And us Westerners? We're lucky if we know our great grandparents' names.

"We truly are a species with amnesia." - Graham Hancock

Our notion of reality is so far divorced from the truth that anything that stems from that original misconception is also flawed. If you bear with me for a second, and extrapolate upon this hypothetical flaw through every facet of human civilisation, where do we arrive? You guessed it.

The shit storm of modern society: perpetual warfare; worthless money; materialism & consumerism; sky-high mental illness and suicide rates; pollution of land, air, and sea; and an education system based around regurgitating the same information as every other student, creating a herd mentality echo chamber that shuts down creativity and curiosity before it's even begun.

Still, most people wouldn't even question it. It's normal and the way it's always been.

No.1: I disagree.

No. 2: What we refer to as 'normal' is better worded as 'insanity'.

Nature In Montenegro
Nature's version of normal.

Once Upon A Time...

By now, you're probably wondering when I'm going to start providing any evidence for these claims. And what the hell has it got to do with full-time travel? Let’s start at the beginning. I mean the beginning beginning. According to conventional thinking, the universe came into existence around 13.7 billion years ago. This could be a much larger number as this refers to the creation of the visible universe via the Big Bang. However, it doesn't take a genius to work out that if the Big Bang did happen, then matter must have already existed.

Without delving too far down the creation rabbit hole, let's follow conventional thinking and round down to say that our visible universe was created an absolute minimum of 13 billion years ago.

Now, our solar system, the little group of planets that orbit our sun is around 4.5 billion years old. This is around the same time Earth was born. This means that our planet and sun came into existence around ⅔ of the way into the universe’s minimum existence.

Life supposedly began on Earth (another spontaneous 'miracle') approximately 3.8 billion years ago. Advanced sea life steadily evolved over billions of years, and then around 470 million years ago, plants began to grow on the surface. Within the next 70 million years, the first creatures are known to have ‘left the sea’.

240 million years ago, dinosaurs appeared. They reigned on Earth for 175 million years. Let me repeat that. The reign of the dinosaurs lasted for 175 million years.

Around 65 million years ago, a comet wiped them out, along with 50% of other species.

Since then, many different animals have roamed the planet. From woolly mammoths to terror birds, saber-toothed tigers to giant sloths. Just think of creatures now, but enormous.

And then we get to humans.

Anatomically correct humans are said to have appeared around 200 thousand years ago. These would have looked and thought exactly like us and you could bring one up in the modern day and nobody would be able to spot the difference. We’re told that they were nomadic hunter-gatherers who learnt how to craft basic tools, make fire, and shelter in caves. They stayed like this with little to no advancement for 190 thousand years…

Then, seemingly out the blue, around 10,000 years ago, humans discovered agriculture. From there they quickly settled down, changing their entire way of life.

Cities formed; writing, astronomy, and mathematics were discovered; and then, even more strangely, they started building enormous megalithic structures with extreme precision, like the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

I'll save the levels of accuracy going into the construction of the pyramids for another post, but there's a reason they're still some of the most impressive structures on the planet to this day.

"Modern science is based on the principle: ‘Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’ The one free miracle is the appearance of all the mass and energy in the universe and all the laws that govern it in a single instant from nothing.” - Terrence McKenna

Humans, in their ‘civilised’ form, have been around for 6,000 years more or less, according to mainstream thinking. Ancient Sumer was said to be the cradle of civilisation around 4,000 BC.

Without going into detail about how this idea could also be flawed, it's apparent that we are a tiny speck on the timeline of history. 6,000 years is nothing. Even 200,000 years since the first homo sapiens sapiens is not a scratch on the history of the world.

This little walk through history was just to show how humans appear at around the 99.8% mark of Earth's history, which itself is around 66% of the way through the visible universe's history. Okay, so we haven't been around for very long comparatively. But what about our actual place in the universe?

The Milky Way from the Atacama desert in Chile.
The Milky Way is estimated to contain 100-400 billion stars!

How Big Is The Universe?

The observable universe is around 46 billion light years in each direction. That’s a span of 92 billion light years. This is only what we can see.

To reach the edge of the universe from Earth, we’d have to travel at the speed of light for 46 billion years!

We'd have to travel as fast as the fastest known thing in the universe for almost 4 times longer than the universe has been in existence, just to reach the outskirts. And I’ll repeat again, these are minimum estimates based on the observable universe.

In fact, now that I think about it, if light is the fastest thing in the universe then it's literally impossible for the universe to have been created from a single point 13.7 billion years ago and simultaneously be 92 billion light years wide.

This contradiction is the exact thing I'm talking about. Unless I'm missing something, then either light isn't the fastest thing or the Big Bang didn't create the universe. Most likely both.

Hold Up. My Brain Hurts...

When numbers are so large, they can appear like meaningless statistics. Let’s try something else.

The universe is made up of galaxies. Galaxies are clusters of stars, many of which contain solar systems and planets. Our solar system belongs to the Milky Way. The Milky Way contains between 100 and 400 billion stars!

And how many galaxies does the universe contain?

Our best estimate of the observable universe leads us to believe that there are a minimum of 100 billion galaxies.

Scientists estimate that the observable universe could contain 300 sextillion stars! That’s a 3 with 21 zeros - 3,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! They go on to theorise that there should be at least the same number of planets as stars, if not more. We have currently confirmed the existence of over 4,000 planets, 55 of which are in the habitable 'goldilocks' zone. Extrapolating with these numbers leads astronomers to suggest that there should be around 50 billion habitable planets in our galaxy alone.

So let's take a step back with this new perspective. We're a dot in time and a dot in space. But what do we actually know? How do we perceive reality? Now it gets even better.

Hiking in Prizren, Kosovo.
Our senses filter the energy around us.

How We Use The 5 Senses To Construct Our Reality

Our primary sense is sight and we live in a world where we often hear sayings such as, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

This is troubling. Why? Because we only see 0.0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum of light!

People that only believe what they see ignore the 99.9965% of things they can’t see.

What about our other senses? Sound, for instance? We can hear, more or less, up to 20,000hz. Whales can hear up to ten times more, or 200,000hz.

As for smell, it’s clear we can’t compete with animals. The human nose has around 5 million olfactory receptors that are used to detect scents. Bloodhounds have over 200 million… However, if you thought that was a lot, bears have been known to have 2,100 times more olfactory receptors than humans! They can smell food from over 18 miles away. These are just examples of animals in the same speck of time and space as us.

Touch and taste aren't as effective at detecting the outside environment, however, it's worth asking what would life be like without senses at all?

Paragliding over Buzludzha in Bulgaria
Every experience is decoded through our senses.

If we were blind, deaf, and without a sense of smell, touch, or taste, how would we think? Would we think at all? Does thinking exist without external stimuli?

Is there a 6th sense, a more mental or spiritual one, that's been clouded by the physical reality formed through the use of the first 5. Just food for thought.

So, we’ve existed for less than 0.01% of time in the universe. The area we’ve explored in our galaxy is less than 0.01%, not to mention the billions of other galaxies. The amount of light we can detect is, again, less than 0.01%. So why is it then, that humans act like we know everything? We seem to be terrified to say, "I don't know." Our aversion to admitting holes in our knowledge leads us to teach that same broken knowledge to everyone else. Scientists seem to be obsessed with proving everything in the physical reality, completely ignoring the fact that consciousness isn't found in matter. It's somewhere else entirely - a separate plane of existence that coincides with the physical.

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” - Nikola Tesla

We use instruments to detect things that the human body cannot -- radiation, for instance. But to the average non-scientist, the vast majority of our understanding of the world comes solely from those 5 senses.

Things that can't be proven using the scientific method are called pseudoscience, tarnishing their reputation and giving the impression that they are bullshit. In actual fact, the scientific method is limited to external matter and will never be able to be applied to the mind or consciousness in any kind of effective way.

Our society ridicules people who go against the conventional way of thinking, before they've even heard their full argument. This is despite the fact that every useful invention or discovery ever made was by people who thought outside the box, people who didn’t conform to the herd mentality.

How can anybody ever achieve anything great if we're all taught the exact same (mostly wrong) stuff?

I firmly believe that if we continue limiting ourselves to what we can detect in the physical reality, we will never grow or learn from our mistakes as a species.

Wasn't This Blog About Travel Or Something?

So what does all this metaphysical stuff have to do with me?

This is just scratching the surface of why we think the way we think, and more importantly for me, why I think the way I think.

I don't agree that human life is about survival (I.e work and reproduction). I think it's about experiencing everything you possibly can and learning from every single day.

Dancing on the cliff edge at Belogradchik Rocks.
Make the most of every day!

I may have started travelling to "find myself" in the stereotypical way you'd expect. But what I found, and the perspective I gained, led me to understand that our future is simultaneously decided by free will and destiny.

If we're passive and just ride through life, then we're subjecting ourselves to destiny. We can take the reins at any moment and shape our reality into what we want it to be. Take advantage of the now and everything becomes possible.

In that case, working 9-5 in Birmingham until I retire became a choice rather than a necessity.

If everything's possible, then the only limitations are the ones you set yourself.

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