Thursday, 26 December 2013

What makes the possible actual?

There are endless possibilities but seemingly only one actual world that we can experience. Where are these possibilities if not in the actuality of the world? What makes the possible actual?

It is only with hindsight that we can truly know whether a possibility can be made into an actuality in the world. Therefore, an observer is needed to verify at this moment if a possibility has occurred and become actual. However, human observers are limited in that we think one thought after another and are therefore stuck in the present; the future is unknown to us. We can predict what might happen in the future by assuming what happened in the past will continue to occur in the future. But the further we try to leap from the present the more unlikely we will be able to predict what actually will happen. This is because of the vast number of variables in the world, including the free will of others. If we avoid the present, we are left with only a world of possibilities.

As observers we are the ones who introduce possibility into the world; we create it to enable us to navigate a path through our complicated world. But the world is a series of actualities and takes little notice of our possibilities even when we try to impose our free will onto the world (unexpected things happen and unexpected consequences of our actions can occur). In other words, possibilities are only predictions located in our heads as actual thoughts; the world is not a possibility, it can only be actual. Thought seems to detach us from the immediate sensory input we are receiving and in its place enable us to sense possibilities; we do this by taking all we have learnt, chopping it up into its component parts and being free to glue these parts back together in any configuration. For example, the idea of "seal sister" isn't actual (I don't have a seal for a sister) but its component parts ("seal" and "sister") are things in the world I know about. We become lost in the thick forest of these sorts of possibilities.

We can manipulate the world to make things like computers and phones but we can't change the laws that govern such things; we can only discover them. The discovery can be made actual. Similarly, we can live a life but we can't choose the state in which we exist; it is only a possibility glued together from the component thoughts "we create things", "I was created" therefore "I created + myself". Thoughts only influence other thoughts within ourselves. Thought can influence something outside of yourself if it is translated into action. However, in this translation process the possibility is reduced down to an actuality of the world.

Therefore, living with Parkinson's requires me to focus on the actuality of the disease and not get lost in the possibilities, which are just thoughts with limited influence. Using the actual as the basis of my response I have more chance of successfully changing the context of the disease to cope better with it. For example, I can stubbornly ignore the presence of Parkinson's in my life but this makes the symptoms worse because I am not adapting to them.

One crucial aspect of thought that is supremely beneficial in dealing with difficulty is the privileged access we have to our thoughts. We have the ability to think different thoughts, which can trigger many different trains of thought. For example, when I was diagnosed I could have thought, "My life is over" and closed myself down. Instead, I thought, "There is space for me in my disease", which opened up thought and the world again.

We cannot change the fundamental actuality of the world but we can think and act to achieve a closer, more beneficial relationship with it. 


  1. Diagnosis is the primary suffering - secondary suffering is caused either by denial or drowning in negativity. The third choice is to acknowledge and accept your illness and find well being within the limitations of the illness. You are not your illness but the same person you always were. Set the reset button on your life to open up the possibility of finding joy in areas which before may have never been acknowledged. Live with your illness - don't fight it .

  2. I am sooooooo happy to have found your post. You're giving me hope that it will work for me too! Thanks for sharing!

    Malegra DXT