Have you ever felt so uncertain of everything you ever thought, did, or said that you aren’t even really clear if you even exist?

I have been thinking about this lately because on twitter, @allendh asked me (rephrased) “how do we know we are really here and the reality we see isn’t just our imagination?”

This reminds me of an old edgar allan poe poem I used to love, back in my “dark days” of being 13.

A Dream Within A Dream

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Edgar Allan Poe

Before I go any further with my own exploration of this, I would love to hear what you all think?!
I look forward to your responses.


Add yours Comments – 86

  • Chad C

    on May 3, 2009 at 4:41 am

    I would have to say i can’t really agree with what you’re saying but i have often felt as if i don’t really exist, but just me – if that makes any sense. its like everyone else has such purpose and drive and they know where they want to be – and yet i cannot for the life of me work out where I’m headed. its like going to school and withering away in my room are the only things i do. i mean, there are sports and things like that but all the while it just seems like a bit of a farce. like there isn’t any point to it. Well, i don’t know if that’s what you meant but those are my thoughts on it.
    add me on MSN at; chad@crayston.co.uk

  • Geoff

    on May 3, 2009 at 4:42 am

    “All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.”
    – Bill Hicks

    “You are as real as you allow yourself to be.”
    – Me

  • Lydia

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:11 am

    I have asked myself “Who I am?” “What is my purpose in life?” “Where do we go when we die? “How do I live a meaningfulI life?”
    I have been introspecting a lot and even though, I don’t have all the answers, I feel really grateful of having embarked on my own journey. It is as if I have found my spiritual path (this has nothing to do with religion) as well.

    I love Oprah:-). It is no secret that Oprah is a role model for self-improvement and that she loves delving into the meaning behind spirituality.
    “Anybody who knows me will tell you nothing makes me happier than talking about this,” she says. “Spirituality to me is the greatest discovery of life. … For me, spirituality is recognizing that I am connected to the energy of all creation—that I am a part of it and it is always a part of me.”

    I really loved what she said and the more I thought about it the more it inspired me to continue to live a meaningful, giving, generous life of compassion and love, try to make a difference and connect, embrace who I am and feel empowered to go into the world and venture out into the unknown.

    Life can be really hard sometimes, we don’t always understand what happens to us, we don’t know what the future will throw at us but, life is a precious gift and we should all try to live our best life.

    I wish you a wonderful Sunday.

  • Ally

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:38 am

    that’s a question I ask myself every day.. I don’t know how I’m still here.. after everything that happened to me.. I wonder what’s the point?
    and wonder am I still really here?

  • Irene

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:46 am

    I was just thinking about that very thing this past week. LOL I was thinking about what I learned in an art class, about the theory of how we see color.

    The prism and how it reflects color when light hits it & the way our eyes work in that same way. Color does not really exist. What a boring thought…LOL

    I mean I LOVE to look at the sky and admire the different paintings God creates every day, using all those beautiful colors…to think that none of them really exist, and is only seen because of how light hits the retna of my eye, and how my brain translates it…that just takes all the fun and beauty out of this world.

    Do we exist? Are we really seeing what we see? All I know is that a drawer fell on my shins the other day, and the reality of that pain REALLY freakin hurt!

  • Irene

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Oh, you know when Jesus’ friend died (in the Bible), Jesus told his disciples (in my own words), “…so and so is asleep, I must go an wake him.” This was in reference to his friend passing away.

    So yeah, there is now such thing as death as Geoff said…it’s true.

  • Michael

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:54 am

    What is real and what isn’t? Pinch yourself and it hurts, is it real? I guess that is the tried and tested way, but I’ve always thought about what about when your dreaming. The dream can seem so real, but then on the other hand when you wake up you know it was a dream and not real. There are things in life that we simply can’t quantify, and therefore is a mystery of life, although it doesn’t stop me thinking about it.

  • Irene

    on May 3, 2009 at 5:55 am

    oops! i meant “no such thing as death.”

  • Havok

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man – Chuang Chou

    I don’t believe the question is nearly as important as the journey to find the answer, and it’s in that journey that we do indeed find the answer.

  • Joe

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:13 am

    research Descartes. Great philosopher. but he had these same thoughts and locked himself in a room until he came to a resolution he could live with. I won’t spoil the ending, but I still don’t agree with it. have fun! 🙂

  • Avitable

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:20 am

    This line of thinking is precisely why movies that explore whether or not we are real or dreaming, like The Matrix, are popular and continue to be made. While it would be nice to think that one is real, how does one ever know for certain?

  • Robin

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:23 am

    What a great subject and wonderful poem.

    It’s a bit like that moment you wake up after dreaming and for that few seconds aren’t sure if that really just happened for real or not!

    I tend to think our own perspective greatly helps to “create” our own reality.
    What do I mean by this, well the best way I can describe it is try driving in a car listening to a sad piece of music,the place and people around us look depressing, gloomy and full of dispair …then try driving down the exact same road and instead listen to a piece of music or a song which is full of joy, as you look around the World around you looks full of hope, happiness and fun!

    Everything we touch hear and see is experienced through our own senses and interpreted by our own individual imaginations and emotions, what I view as red , someone else may view as crimson.
    It’s a bit like experiencing time, whenever I find myself in an embarressing/awkward moment/chore time appears to stand still, yet when I am experiencing something I enjoy, time seems to just fly by, does anyone else sometimes experience this?

    Our own imagination/attitude in how we respond to those around us and our own self worth shapes our own reality.

    What a really interesting subject and one I’ll ponder on for a very long time!

    Are we really here or are we just playing parts in others imagination, if so, I hope the writers (whoever they are) are kind to me and I don’t forget my lines!

  • Carissa

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:41 am

    That’s really funny because my old best friend (when i was fourteen) gave me a journal with that poem written in gold on the cover, i was obsessed with it for a while. I even chose it to recite in one of my voice classes years ago.

    The dreams I have sometimes are so real that I don’t know if I’m dreaming — they kind of pick up where I left off when I go to sleep, the idea of a dream within a dream can actually be a pretty scary concept.

    Not knowing if what you’re experiencing is real or not, and the thought of not existing at all and having you’re entire existence be a dream…

    Better make it a good one 😉

  • Dario

    on May 3, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Hi Allison,I’m from germany and my english is not the best and I don’t know if you’ll ever read this but I wanted to ask you if you could do some audio-commentaries for the season 8 dvd of smallville for some episodes like Odyssey,Bride,Legion,Hex,Doomsday and of course your directical debut Power,we the fans miss you on the dvd’s,we haven’T had cast audio-commentaries since season 4 with you and erica and tom hasn’t done one since season 2,it would be so cool if the 3 of you and maybe the other cast(Aaron,Cassidy,Sam,Justin) would/could do audio-commentaries for the dvd,cause the fans including think that yours toms and ericas were the best and funniest,so if you have time and if it’s not too late please please please do some audio-commentaries,and I hope my english wasn’t too bad and I hope you understand everything I said,bye and greetings from germany-berlin

  • mar1013

    on May 3, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Well, I have to improve my english because it’s really difficult to understand poetry 🙁

    I don’t know, i think that It’s more than asking ourselves if we are real or not, it’s to know what we are doing here, why we are here, how…

    There are so many questions to answer that sometimes we ask ourselves if we really are here or everything is just a dream.

  • juanito

    on May 3, 2009 at 7:21 am

    When I was 18 I didn’t know I was here. I didn’t know my purpose in life. I asked myself the question Why am I here? I came to the point where I lost my faith and to be perfectly frank, I didn’t want to be here anymore. But then I had one of the most amazing Spiritual experiences (1 of many)that changed my life. This experience not only gave me a sense of purpose, it changed me from a once negative, depressed, grumpy individual. To someone who loved life alot more and finally got his question answered! I’m currently working on writing about my spiritual experiences.

  • James

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Our life is only what we interpret. When you close your eyes, there is nothing but darkness. When they open, there is light. In the beginning there was light. Light is a wave, therefore life is also a wave. Creation is made of this same electromagnetic wave we call matter. It’s all a simple illusion. LOVE FIRST.

  • Medina

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:14 am

    In my ‘dark days’ im read:

    Vês! Ninguém assistiu ao formidável
    Enterro de tua última quimera.
    Somente a Ingratidão – esta pantera –
    Foi tua companheira inseparável!

    Acostuma-te à lama que te espera!
    O Homem, que, nesta terra miserável,
    Mora, entre feras, sente inevitável
    Necessidade de também ser fera.

    Toma um fósforo. Acende teu cigarro!
    O beijo, amigo, é a véspera do escarro,
    A mão que afaga é a mesma que apedreja.

    Se a alguém causa inda pena a tua chaga,
    Apedreja essa mão vil que te afaga,
    Escarra nessa boca que te beija!

    (Augustos dos Anjos)

  • arash

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Roses are red violets are blue,
    or maybe those are pills, morpheus giving you

    It’s not black or white, it’s not light or dark
    Red and blue is a blur, could it be just Clark?

    Dreams are so real, and reality just a dream
    Either way I love that, coconut based icecream

    Nothing created, nothing ever dies
    But everything is changing (partly true, part lies)

  • Micah

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I’m barely smart enough to cope with my own senses, how could I dream everything from the endless reaches of space to the microcosm of my back yard? If this is all a dream, its not my dream. It must be someone else’s dream. A dream full of dreamers, from the bacteria, each dreaming division and multiplication to the anthill dreaming its collective gathering to the blue whale dreaming the songs of liquid earth. Whose dream is this? Because if I’m being dremt, I’d like to meet the dreamer.

  • Ross UK

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:44 am

    That is a fascinating poem, and I think the answer to the question is right there in the first verse:

    “Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?”

    Whether or not this existence is real or not, whether we are in a dream or are the dreamers ourselves, all we can do is go about our existence as we already do. There is the danger in considering such concepts that one might slip into Nihilism, where one mght consider that since existence is not real, morility has no value. In my opinion, the question of whether our experiences and beliefs are real or true is not so important as the experiences and beliefs themselves. Asking if things like love, hope and morality exist does not detract from the intrinsic worth of those things. Unless, of course, our existence is something like the Matrix in which case we must fight with all our might to reach the “real” world…

    I’m reminded of a couple of quotes:
    “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” – Douglas Adams
    “If the brain were so simple we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn’t.” – Lyall Watson

    mar1013 – I hear what you’re saying about poetry in other languages… I just put Medina’s poem into GoogleTranslate and got extremely confused…

  • Allie

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Wow, I haven’t been around here in forever, I blame school, I haven’t had hardly any free time in months! But anywho, now that it’s summer (or almost summer…one final left, and cleaning out my dorm room and then I’m free!) I have time to actually sit down and formulate a coherent response.
    I think it’s the question that has troubled humanity for all time. How can we be sure of what we see? How can we know that we are present in “reality?”
    We feel the haunting texture of a veil over our faces. We see glimmers of what we feel reality SHOULD be, but when we reach to grasp them, they disappear as quickly as they came. We feel an uncertain twinge in the pit of our stomachs that something is missing. That the world in which we live cannot possibly be reality.
    So what’s the answer? Is it reality, and we are merely restless because we desire the unknown, and after living with the known for so long, our minds fabricate these responses? Or is it more?
    When I first read this response, I thought of Plato’s allegory of the cave, which is in essence this, Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. Suppose then a prisoner is freed from the cave, and allowed to go up into the real world. He would first of all, have a hard time taking anything in the world to be “reality”, because his viewpoint of reality is so radically different. But say if he managed to take it in, and change his view, accept the new reality, and he were to then go back to the cave, would he ever be able to convince the others of what he has seen?
    So I guess, what I was getting at is, perhaps we are right, perhaps what we see are simply shadows on the wall, in comparison with what is truly going on. Perhaps we see dimly, as if through a veil, only seeing a shadowed, fractured portion of what this life is and means. Or perhaps we see nothing at all of reality.
    I also think, that in portion at least, that a majority of people dismiss these feelings because of a fear of death (which, sorry to go off on a tangent but, I was thinking about this the other day, and in essence any fear you have eventually goes back to a fear of death or dying. Think about it, if you’re scared of heights it’s not the actual height, it’s the falling to your death, spiders, it’s that you’ll get bit and die…etc etc etc.) Anywho…where was I….Ah yes, I think that a majority of people try to dismiss these feelings because they fear seeing true reality, which supposedly will come when we die. But I think that we only fear death as humans because we do not know it. It is the one experience that we will never get any foreknowledge about. We are basically walking unprepared into who knows what. And perhaps that “who knows what” is true reality. But the unknown, the otherness about that scares us as humans, and so for the most part we avoid those fleeting glimmers of clarity, the moments where we are sure that this cannot possibly be reality, and we slurp through another bowl of cereal and we shuffle out to our 9-5’s or our next class and ignore it.
    But should we ignore it for now? If this is correct, should we be searching for reality in a place where it can never exist, rather where it exists, but is incomplete? Or should we merely wait until the day we are brought up from the cave, into the marvelous light of truth and realization?


  • Allie

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Wow…I just realized my response was super long, sorry about that, I’m still in paper writing mode from finals and end of the term papers and what not (…Expound! Expound! Must have another 1500 words!) I guess I’m just lucky I didn’t accidentally do MLA citation and footnotes along with it! Lol,
    anywho…yeah, sorry again for the novel! 😀
    Have a good rest of the weekend!

  • David Hayes

    on May 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Do we know reality? No. We interpret what out imperfect senses tell us based upon experience including education which is a selection of other peoples’ experiences that have been judged accurate enough to pass on by others with imperfect senses.

    And when we dream or are in some drug altered state, what we experience may not be a hard edged reality or make as much sense to us as things we experience when we are conscious and sober, but the pain, fear, elation … the feelings we feel in those altered states is often as real as when we are awake. So, we may never know reality or truth, but our feelings exist and are real and is proof enough that we exist.

  • Anthony

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I wish I didn’t exist.

  • Susana

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:23 am

    The poem is very dark but I love it because sometimes it’s just like I feel all that. & what you said before “have you ever felt uncertain” Yes I have many many times. I sometimes don’t even know what I am thinking sometimes it’s just wierd because I can’t find the inner me in myself & it’s scary sometimes because I don’t know if I like that feeling

    but in the end I have to overcome that because I feel that if I think too much about that then I will never realize who I am

    Thanks for this Allison it really got me thinking

    Take Care

  • Ross UK

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I have been giving this a little more thought and, being odd like I am, I am approaching it from a different angle. My academic background is a bit unusual as my studies focused on both ancient languages/civilisations and on physics/mathematics. Having already approached the philospohical side I’m now looking at the scientific side.

    Physicists have long been looking into the nature of our reality with a view to understanding and explaining it. They run into trouble in that Relativity and Quantum Theory, applying to very big things and very small things respectively, seem to be mutually exclusive. The Holy Grail of the physicist is called the Universal Theory of Everything and it has been sought by people from Aristotle to Galileo, Newton to Einstein. It is essentially a single set of rules governing the whole of existence. The problem physicists have is that they have to study the unobservable. Things like sub-atomic particles and extra-solar bodies cannot be seen by the human eye – electrons are readily accepted by anyone who has studied sciences, and we evisage them orbiting a nucleus like planets around a sun, but the truth is they can exist anywhere in the area surrounding a nucleus and we have absolutely no way of knowing where they are – it is simply probability guess work. Scientists are, in effect, watching shadows on the cave wall as described by Allie. The additional problem is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, whereby the very act of observing alters the thing being observed. Imagine the people in the cave calling out whenever a shadow passes the entrance to the cave. The shadowcaster might pause and listen, or might afterwards avoid the entrance to the cave. Consider the Douglas Adams quote I mentioned earlier. I think the very quest to understand reality and our role in it probably renders the quest impossible to fulfil. It doesn’t make the quest itself any the less worthwhile.

    Has anyone ever read the “Rama” series of books by Arthur C. Clarke? Major spoiler coming up: it is revealed that God himself created the universe as a means of learning about existence – the experiences of every person who lived was the data he gained from the experiment. You might say that we are the dreamed and God is the dreamer. Essentially, by living our lives the way we do, we are teaching God about the nature of reality.

  • Ross UK

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Anthony, cheer up. Given the nature of today’s discussion, you might not!

  • Allie

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “Has anyone ever read the “Rama” series of books by Arthur C. Clarke? Major spoiler coming up: it is revealed that God himself created the universe as a means of learning about existence – the experiences of every person who lived was the data he gained from the experiment. You might say that we are the dreamed and God is the dreamer. Essentially, by living our lives the way we do, we are teaching God about the nature of reality. “-Ross UK

    Wow! I rather like that idea! That’s a fascinating stance on the subject….(*puts the series on her “to read” list*) However, then one asks the question, what are the limitations of God? Is he/she/it then NOT all knowing etc? Or IS God all knowing in the sense that God is outside of time, and therefore WILL know all at some point, so is in fact all knowing? (Not sure if that makes sense, just found it fascinating…) I’m a religion major, so I LOVE talking through and exploring questions like this… 😀 So much fun to admit ignorance and even so dive into the deep end of the mysteries of the universe without a floatie as it were. 🙂

  • Robin Hebert

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

    Ohhhhh Arash I love that poem. I was thinking of the matrix as well. Allison, we all go through scary times of wondering what is real. If we didn’t we are just like lemmings following the crowd down the hill to our demise. If I didn’t believe in God…I would live in a world of despair. He is my plumbline, my constant with which everything else is measured against. Still….,I don’t have it all figured out. But many things that we were built for by the Manufacturer are the things that “make us go” like LOVE, INSPIRATION, CREATIVITY, PURPOSE, CONNECTING, SERINDIPITY, LOYALTY, etc. Those are real and those define our world….not the temporal things and surface illusions of judgments, opinions, etc.

  • Dana

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Yes…this post is long, but I got really into thinking about what it means to exist and how do we know we are not dreaming (or if it even matters). Thanks Allison!

    One could argue that existence is a self-evident truth and leave it at that. That is, all of my perceptions, all of my senses would indicate that I do exist. However, Descartes brought up an interesting point when he postulated that any sensory experience that I have when I am awake, I can also have while I am sleeping. When I am sleeping all of my sensory experiences come from within, yet I believe them to be coming from the external world. How then do we know if our sensory experiences while we are “awake” comes from within or from an external world that we exist in? Could I be tricked into thinking I exist?

    Enter Descartes famous line “Cogito ergo sum,” I think therefore I am. In the processing of doubting my own existence, I validate my own existence. In order to be able to question existence, there must be an “I,” a person doing the thinking. Right? Even if my existence were a dream, within that dream there is still an “I.”

    In a pragmatic sense, it doesn’t make sense to question one’s existence, as it doesn’t play a pivotal role in day to day decision making. Running with the assumption “I do exist” serves me best on a day to day basis. If I were to believe that I did not exist, what would be the point? Or if I thought I existed only inside a dream, what would be the recourse to my actions? I could do whatever, whenever with no repercussions. Clearly, there are consequences to the decisions I make. If I steal something and get caught, I will be punished. Even if I dream this all up, I don’t appear to be able to control the actions of other people (or the legal system) in my dream, so it’s more practical to believe I do exist and act accordingly.

    Another interesting questions this brings up is what does it even mean to exist? I guess this is a question I should have tackled first because to know if I exist I have to know what it means to exist. Can some people exist more than others? First off, there is physically existing, that is, I have a body, therefore I exist. I personally believe this is way too simplified. Next, I have a body that has a mind that can think, in other words, I am a thinking being. I like this one better but it still doesn’t quite sum up existence to me. How about, I have a body, that has a mind, that has a free will (although that free will may be limited at times). To fully exist is to be able to think about what you do or do not want or what you do or do not believe and then to act accordingly. This definition brings up some interesting “but what ifs.” For example, what if someone is performing an act because they are being forced to (e.g. they have a gun to their head). That person is no longer acting out her free will, yet I would still believe her to exist. Hmmm…

    Because of this I believe there are various levels of existence. Confused? I don’t like to think of existence as an all or nothing, an either I exist or I don’t. I believe I am fully existing when I utilizing my free will to the utmost degree. When the actions I make have visible ramifications on the world around me. Performing an action because I have a gun to my head and being told to do something is a quasi sort of existence because it lacks the free will to fully control one’s life. It doesn’t mean I am any less physically present, but my core self, my free will, is it present at that moment.


  • MarilyneL

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Plato’s cave uh, I absolutely remember this one and agree with it!

    I think that all we think we know to be the truth, is based on our senses or our perception. Just look at illusion tricks…our mind gets so confused haha
    Optical illusions hehe

    The Matrix, is another example of thinking to know something when you are dead wrong… However, always looking for the answers is, I think, what keeps us going.

  • darwin

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:46 am


    This whole topic brings to mind “The Emporer’s New Clothes”


    Remembering how many times the Brooklyn Bridge has been “sold” to a series of unsuspecting and gullible victims.

    “Reality” involves seeing things as they REALLY are…

    Then of course improving upon things that need to be improved upon.

    Which involves discovering the path/process for that to happen.

    Thus we can do much with our allotted time…

    Obstacles to this include the time we waste being duped.

    And the time we waste being OVERLY afraid.

    And the time that we waste not being careful enough…which leads to more time wasted recovering/healing/fixing and otherwise getting back to square one.

    Situations, circumstances and people will knock you off your path or try to knock you off your path.

    Other situations circimstances and people will help.

    And THEN there are also WELL-MEANING but, by and large… stupid people…who are a good-hearted hinderment.

    Which of course makes it ALL the MORE important to see things (events, enviroments, and circumstances and people) as they REALLY are.

    Which takes THOUGHT.

    Which takes OBSERVATION.

    Which takes AWARENESS.

    Which takes HONESTY.

    With a healthy dose of LOVE.

    Which takes patience…so that conclusions are not wrapped up in anger or resentment or hatred or other poisons which ALSO slow you down by skewering your perspective.

    And then realizing…

    THIS person is THIS circumstance…is no help.

    But over HERE…actually yes they are.

    And this person is pretty much helpful always.

    And this person…not yet.


    This ROAD should NEVER be traveled…THIS path should never be trod.

    And THIS one over here…though difficult and challenging and frustrating all at once…is actually helpful and good.

    And ALL of this (and more) results in WISDOM.

    And then nobody listens to you. *smiles*


    You still feel like you should try.

    And then you can “squeeze out” as much beauty in it’s immensity and detail…and contentment…and REAL happiness in life…and hopefully help to add these elements to someone else’s life too.

  • taylor nikole

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

    I don’t believe our conscious will ever know itself fully….
    because our subconscious is greedy…
    its really a question of self-identity
    we may discover new things about ourselves, but that only leads to more unanswered questions and a new quest.

    and as for existence, we can only really live in the moment and hope it does exist, hope that we as a being exist or are not alone in a world of non existence :-p

  • william

    on May 3, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Man, there’s alot of different viewpoints to this question, not that it is not expected. I belive we are living, that we do and will die, but that like with lazarus there is a hope of a resurrection. ecclesiastes 9:5- ”for the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all…” being conscious of nothing is like sleeping, I belive this is what jesus meant, that to raise a dead person to life is as easy as waking someone sleeping to him, but there is those dead and death is real. I belive this life is real, but god has something better in mind and is taking action to change things, being a part of that is part of the purpose of living, that plan can be found in the bible. Great blog allison!!!

  • Jesse

    on May 3, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Hi Allison

    I think no sure; it has been a long time. I think this person is talking about Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” I think I exist therefore I exist, or could this be just a dream. He then gets in to the whole contention with it. I remembered just a little, Allison you exist and this is not a Dream. If this is a dream and this beautiful woman does not exist then maybe I shouldn’t get up. Love is real and that couldn’t be something we could be dreaming. Descartes was empirical and mathematical always on observations rejected emotional or ones beliefs. Which I think human beings are more emotional than anything, I think he was struggling with his own beliefs being that he was a Catholic. I think he then changed this argument by believing that he had the reasoning to believe in something perfect like god (all knowing, omniscient, etc) he therefore existed. I forget why he changed his mind believing he wasn’t in a dream. Wow hard topic Allison, it’s been a while, but you exist. “If your love and beauty exist therefore you exist” I like my axiom better haaa. Ummmm


  • D'Arcy

    on May 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Reality is strictly your own perception of the area around you. My reality, I’m sure, is far different then anyone else. This, of course, goes hand in hand with your own personal belief structure, morals, values, etc. Also, if you look at reality, I am reminded of the “choose your adventure” books, where you start on page one, and to slay the dragon you would turn to page 52, or to continue to the princess turn to page 99. Each page we open gives us choices modifies that individual’s “reality” and how they see it.

    As most people here have done, I have questioned my own reality, but being 33 now and having 2 children, I have put those questions behind me with age, but now with age, I am now questioning my own mortality and the reality that I will not be around forever.

  • Marissa KV

    on May 3, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Hi Allison,

    This whole topic brings to mind the idea of “who am i?” as some others on here have stated. Does what we do really impact the world, or is it all just nonsense? Or are we merely taking ourselves too seriously? I’ve pondered some of these things from time to time, and like most of us who have pondered such questions, there’s never really a definitive answer. However, I find poetry or music, which really is just poetry as well, seems to give more of a resolution than my own thoughts are capable of. I can understand how ‘A Dream Within A Dream’ helps to quiet the millions of questions one might have running through the mind. It’s also a beautiful poem and it, along with this topic, actually remind me of another poem, one of my favorites, which for whatever reason, always seems to apply to these kinds of situations and put my mind at rest until the next time. It’s a well known poem by Walt Whitman. And my absolute favorite excerpt is:

    “I celebrate myself,
    And what i assume,
    You shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me,
    As good belongs to you.”

    Not sure where that might leave you on this whole topic, but it’s an interesting statement, and one that I love.


  • Steven Kirk

    on May 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Funny this should come up today. Someone on another board was discussing the “Ferris Bueller – Fight Club” theory. It went something like this:

    “My favorite thought-piece about Ferris Bueller is the “Fight Club” theory, in which Ferris Bueller, the person, is just a figment of Cameron’s imagination, like Tyler Durden, and Sloane is the girl Cameron secretly loves.

    One day while he’s lying sick in bed, Cameron lets “Ferris” steal his father’s car and take the day off, and as Cameron wanders around the city, all of his interactions with Ferris and Sloane, and all the impossible hijinks, are all just played out in his head. This is part of the reason why the “three” characters can see so much of Chicago in less than one day — Cameron is alone, just imagining it all.

    It isn’t until he destroys the front of the car in a fugue state does he finally get a grip and decide to confront his father, after which he imagines a final, impossible escape for Ferris and a storybook happy ending for Sloane (”He’s gonna marry me!”), the girl that Cameron knows he can never have.”

    Imagination is great. It can be a blueprint for reality.

    Personally though, I know I’m real and this is my life. If this was all in my mind, I’d be a foot taller. 😉

  • Edmundo

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Sometimes our dreams feel so real and so “right” that we just dont notice the difference between them and the reality. But, what is reality in the first place? and what dreaming means? Is it our brain telling us how our life should be? or reminding us what have we done wrong? or is just our brain playing silly jokes to us?
    Sometimes our dreams help us see things more clearly or find some inspiration.
    Do we ever stop dreaming? I dont think dreams stop at the moment we wake up y actually consider myself a day-dreamer, cuz I dream more while I’m awake but… what does that means? ….

    Have a good day


    PS. I love that Poe’s poem

  • Neil

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Here is my response to something I consider bleak. This statement sits in a frame on my dresser, so I see it everyday.


    “This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it or use it for good. What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for ir. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that you have left behind … let it be something good.” – Author Unknown

    I like this particular philosophy. Hope it makes sense to all.


  • Brittany

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Hey Allison!
    Last semester in french class we studied Edgar Allan Poe’s poems & stories, and tried to figure out who he was and what he meant. Very interesting poem.

    I have felt the exact same. Sometimes when I wake up or randomly during the day, I stare around at my hands, body, surroundings and wonder what am I, who am I, and how is this real? It’s a weird state of mind, then I snap out of it and say, whoa! What’s going on? What was I thinking, or pondering? Is this a dream or reality? It’s weird how deja vu or zoning out trips sneak up on you. Allison Mack’s dark days at the age of thirteen, sounds very interesting!

    This weekend I rented the movie : “Milk”. I recommend it to all. Very sad, but inspiring. Arash I loved your poem! Keep them coming! 🙂
    I wish everyone a great weekend and week!
    Much love & support,

  • Sandy

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Good question?? we are in a reality or in a dream? Is it possible that what we dream is the reality, and that the reality is a dream?? Everything depends on our conscience…
    From a philosophical point of view, the reality means in the common use ” everything what exists “.
    Some authors think that Exists two types of realities ” The General reality ” that is shaped by groups of power, these are those who pass what is in ” the real world “. The other one is ” the subjective reality ” that is the one that is generated from the mind of the individual.
    From phisical point of view:the reality is inextricably tied to the nature of the human conscience, and that the belief of which the only real reality exists has stopped having validity and usefulness for the knowledge.
    the science for to reveal that something is real needs study and later checking with appropriate set of instruments.

    The perception of the this reality out of a collective thought, for this one there is needed a spiritual knowledge of the human being only reached between his body and his mind, an own skepticism and an observation activates and transgresora before the collective flow of the life, of the society, since the reality is not equal for all, forms a part of a development and a few own skills of every being, of his world, of what his mind has elaborated from new knowledge and of the relation that has had with these.
    My conclusions are that the reality is constructed between all, but it does not influence in an equal way for all, because there are relations that we have not experienced and that in addition we are cowards at the moment of a deep knowledge elaborates what it leads us to losing the perception and giving I go on to social impositions.

  • Tom

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:37 am

    This whole thing is a bit too existential for me. I wholly believe that we existed before we were born and that after we die we continue to exist and always will. However, to diminsih this life’s existence by asking if it is real, is it a dream, are we really here….is to devalue the fact that we have a purpose while we live. And it is real and it is meaningful.

  • Anthony

    on May 3, 2009 at 11:47 am

    “Anthony, cheer up. Given the nature of today’s discussion, you might not!” 🙂 – Ross UK

    LOL thanks I really needed that. Heh. 🙂

  • Vanessa (spain)

    on May 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Thinking about these things usually make me have a feeling of depersonalization/derealization, which is very scary… If I start wondering if I´m real or not, I start feeling like I´m in a dream. At first I thought I was going mad, but now I´ve learn that it´s the way my brain copes with anxiety, so I try not to think too much about it.

    But I think reality is the interpretation that every councious creature in the Universe has about the world where they´re living on, so there are as many realities as creatures alive. That´s why we fight with each other, to make others believe our same reality and to feel more real when others share our beliefs.

    But anyway, everything could be product of our imagination and we could just be fighting with imaginary people that we created for some unknown reason.

    Who knows, maybe we´re actually living in the Matrix 😛

  • Jade Ruby

    on May 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    It would seem to me that each of us living creatures is an extension of the consciousness of the “Great Creator” entity who allows the physical extension of entire universes to fuel the manifestations of our delicate organic bodies in which we think and dream.
    To me, each time we dream, we are duplicating this awesome feat on a much, much smaller scale.

    Stephen LaBerge (http://www.lucidity.com/), says that if you make a habit of questioning your reality daily, you might learn to catch your self in a dream.

    But then. . . what if you do catch yourself in someone else’s dream?

  • Aziza

    on May 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Hey Allison,

    I’m trying to leave a comment here so if you see it like a gazillion times, sorry.

    Truth is relative- some things are true, whether you believe them or not.

    Some say pain isn’t real- every time I knock my knee against the door I go ouch! (why is that?)

    Feelings are just feelings- then why do you smile?

    We see colour because of how light reflects on our eyes- We don’t see them in the dark, because it’s d-a-r-k.

    Dreams exist only in the mind- but something had to trigger them in the first place.

    I need to hold on to a belief in reality otherwise I’ll go out of my mind. lol

    Keep writing Allison

  • Robin

    on May 3, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Part II…this subject has really got me scratching my head!

    What do we mean by our “Reality”?

    Whenever I go to the cinema, watch television, read a book or seeing a play in one sense I know that what I am experiencing is “non reality”.

    I know i’m either sitting in an audience in a dark room watching flashes of light and sound, or looking at a box in the corner of a room with light, or looking at a series of words on a page, or looking at people standing on a stage speaking lines…Yet each of these forms has the power to create a new reality containing Worlds and characters for the viewer, causing me to either feel happy, sad, excited, depressed or cause me to question my own actions or help me re-afirm my sense of self.

    The emotions any of these forms cause are in a sense as real as any emotion I might feel in my own “personal” reality.

    Again, this topic raises so many questions…
    Is something REAL if we are not aware of it?

  • J

    on May 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Reality is just agreed upon perception. Everyone exists in their own world, to some extent, which is what makes communication, articulation and shared vision such a miracle.