Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is Idealistic Realistic?

Following my train of thought in my previous post entitled "Live Simply, So That Others May Simply Live", I came to this question:

"Is idealistic realistic?"

Many of us, if not all of us, love idealistic rhetorics. We love hearing them, most probably because they give us a sense of hope. A sense of hope is good, but what happens when it crosses over into the territory of false hope?

Perceiving our world right now as an idealistic world is like perceiving a different world; a world in which we didn't live in before, we are not living in now, and we won't live in the future. In any time and in any place, we are bound to see happenings, things, or people that are less than idealistic.

We see imperfections and they don't please us. In the real world, imperfections exist in the very fabric of reality. Does that mean that we forget our idealism and accept all these imperfections? Yes, and no. We can't live with them and we can't live without them.

Our ideals represent our potentials. They show us the kind of people we can be and the kind of people others can be. At the same time, we shouldn't mistake our ideals with the reality. We shouldn't mix them together to a point where we can't distinguish between the two anymore.

Our ideals are what or who we strive to become. The reality is what or who we are. We accept our reality, our imperfections, while hoping and striving to become better and better - getting closer and closer to our ideals.

We cannot and will not reach our ideals, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Imagine if tomorrow you become perfect in every way. Is there anything left to work on? Do we look forward to anything else now that we are already perfect?

To me, no. If I am already perfect, then I wouldn't need to work on anything anymore. I am done. I would imagine my life would be very boring from that point on, because prior to that point, I get up every morning thinking that I have something to do on that day, something to work on, and something to improve.

But if everything is already perfect, already ideal, then what is left?

In a way, my imperfections keep me going. I acknowledge my reality, my imperfect nature, but I choose not to be complacent and to settle in it. Because I know, I can be better. Pursuing my ideals, amidst my reality, is a never ending process.

Ideals are for us to pursue, not for us to live in. We shouldn't be absolutely pessimistic, thinking that everything is dark, gloomy, and pointless. We shouldn't be absolutely optimistic either, thinking that everything is candy canes, rainbows, and fairies.

Pessimism and optimism are on a spectrum. We shouldn't be on either end of it. We should have a healthy amount of both, but between the two, we should tilt a little bit more on the side of optimism. We should be realistically optimistic.

Realistic optimism is where we acknowledge and deal with our imperfections and the imperfections of this world but at the same time, working to improve them to get closer and closer, like an asymptote, to our ideals - the greater versions of ourselves.

So, is idealistic realistic? It is, only if you are realistically idealistic.
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Aiman Azlan
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