The Romance of the Ideal
Every once in a while, we all get filled with hope for some romantic notion in our lives. It could be about a personal dream, an ideal, or, more literally, an actual romance. It’s inevitable, really, and it seems to be in our genes to romanticize and fantasize—why else would we have entire industries (the film industry for one) built around it? Most of us would claim that we want to be realistic, but there are certain moments when we don’t want to allow ourselves to let go of that romantic notion we’ve created. Usually it’s because we’ve actually seen it happen in some way, shape or form in other people. For every person who has repeatedly said that life events simply don’t happen like they do in the movies, there is someone else who has seen a real “Hollywood moment” that seemed to be plucked straight out of a screenplay.
The Blurry Line
I myself live on both sides of the coin. I claim to live my life on the general principles of logic and rationality, yet continue to find myself embracing the fantastical. I’ve always wondered where to draw the line between keeping my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds. There’s obviously no hard and fast answer (although I love Will Smith’s take that surrendering to the “real world” is the quickest path to mediocrity, which you can see in a great video compiling his philosophies), but the more I think about it, the more I realize that you can’t draw a line where the edges are blurred; if logic is black and white but dreams are colorful, trying to find the middle ground seems futile.
The fact is, most human beings who are doing their best to live their lives to the fullest still believe, deep down inside, in at least some of the magic of destiny. Which means that some of the hardest moments in life are those that make us realize we have to give up on that notion—not the concept as a whole, but one particular romanticized ideal that we’ve been lovingly coddling in our heart. I can’t think of anything more difficult than those times.
It all comes down to the question of when we should move on vs. when we shouldn’t give up on a dream. Sometimes it’s not so obvious if we should persevere in the face of adversity. Other times it’s made very clear to us that we need to let something go for the sake of ourselves and living our lives in a healthy way. These are the times I take the hardest, and I'd imagine I’m not alone. But the best thing we can do is to look at those things not as a part of us lost, but as another step of the journey. It’s never easy to let them go, but no one can ever take away the fact that it was there, a major part of your life and yourself, even if it’s not anymore. Because in the end your life won’t be measured by how long you could keep everything that you wanted. It will only be measured by how hard you tried to achieve the fulfillment that you deserved.
Lost But Not Gone Forever
Time is an illusion that makes us feel like things are taken away from us; just because something has passed doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. And since nothing is permanent, we might as well learn a little something from these experiences along the way… Maybe even learn to embrace the new opportunities this impermanence provides our lives with.
A person much smarter than me said that happiness is not a pursuit, it is a decision. It may not always be an easy decision, but there aren’t many of those in life anyway. The best thing you can do is keep your feet on the ground with a little rational thinking to help you realize that all is never lost.
…Oh, and don’t forget to keep your head in the clouds, too. The view is a lot more exciting from up there.