I’ve already hinted at “the idealist” and “the realist” being at odds in the way they perceive the world through Lin Yutang’s pseudo-scientific formula:
|Reality||+||Dreams||=||A heart-ache (usually called Idealism)|
|Reality||+||Humour||=||Realism (also called Conservatism)|
I hear you say “Why?” Always “Why?” You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?George Bernard Shaw
Today, I would like to approach these 2 stereotypes as ways of being in the world, as inside “energies” or archetypes. Both these “energies” can be experienced in the same person, which makes for a somewhat complex identity, a good thing. The problem is that these two energies don’t get along very well and may even trip each other:
- the idealist’s capacity for imagining a better future is pitted against “the realist” heavily bent on discipline and the tried and true;
- the doubting and second guessing pessimist, overly aware of the “why” and the optimist, expansive risk taker asking “why not” and taking action, sometimes, disregarding danger to her peril or,alternately, having cold feet and remaining stuck in her dreams.
Though competing opposites, none of these 2 energies can “make it”- bringing the vision to manifestation-without the other. The difficulty resides in our making these 2 cooperate, by, first, acknowledging these 2 seemingly antagonistic energies within us.
The Idealist /Realist Dialectic
Without a vision, everything may be safe but seem bland, the drudgery of every day’s task, a soul killer; without awareness of where one stands, one builds on shaky ground and may go from one (inner) adventure to the next, one vision to the next, without ever accomplishing anything, thus ending in utter frustration or worse.
The realist task master in us (even for a pur et dur idealistic type) can bring awareness, structure and discipline to the idealist/visionary in us, but he must first allow this later ‘energy’ to initiate. Let’s imagine a better future! Alternately, the visionary in us, must accept to get real or at least “more real” (the proverbial reality check) to have any chance of the grand’ oeuvre to ever see the day. Let’s lay and solidify foundations… to achieve this future. Cooperation!
There are countless heuristic modalities we can use to mediate a meaningful conversation (dialectic) between these “2 energies”, but, again, acknowledging them for ‘who they are’ and what they can do for us, is a great step in the direction of realizing our wildest, or not so wild, after all, dreams.
Through these two inner energies, we may proceed to design the next step, measure progress, assess direction and refine the vision. The (iterative) process of back and forth between the structures put in place and the vision is repeated over and over again until the vision is established or manifested. One caveat in this process: your vision may no longer be the one you started with.
Of course, the odds are greatly increased if the fool, another energy, mediates between the idealist and the realist, if that thou live!
Today’s Fool’s Message
Start with the end in Mind
If the joker is often cruel in disillusioning the idealist, he nevertheless performs a very important function right there by not letting the idealist bump his head against the stone wall of reality and receive a ruder shock. He also gently eases the tension of the hot-headed enthusiast and make him live longer. By preparing him for disillusion, there is probably less pain in the final impact, for a humorist is always like a man charged with the duty of breaking sad news gently to a dying patient. Sometimes the gentle warning from a humorist saves the dying patient’s life.
Lin Yutang The Importance of Living