I met this guy a couple of years ago through an online dating site. We met for coffee at Coffee Plantation when it was at the Biltmore mall. As we strolled through the storefronts and told each other about our lives, he told me that based on our telephone conversations prior to meeting, he thought I was an idealist.
I made a face that made me appear to contemplate the comment, when, in fact, I had no idea what he meant.
How so? I asked.
"I don't know," he said. "Just something you said."
I never got out of him what he meant, and since our "relationship" didn't develop beyond the first meet (He was looking for a new mom for his kids, who'd lost theirs to alcoholism (tragic story). He wanted to know when we could introduce our kids to each other before I even learned his last name.)
I was recently reminded of his words (and the subsequent vocabulary lesson I learned when I Googled "idealism.").
A dictionary definition states idealism as "placing ideals before practical considerations."
Doesn't everyone do that from time to time? We have visions of the way things should be, and then life gets in the way and mucks up our idealistic views.
When I was pregnant with my son, I had an ideal dream of how my birth experience would go. I envisioned the middle-of-the-night water breakage, the sudden onset of labor pains, the scramble to find the car keys and the exciting rush to the hospital.
My son, however, had other plans. He was quite cozy in my womb and lingered there for an extra two weeks.
So, I had a scheduled delivery, which sent me to the hospital in tears because life got in the way of my ideal birth experience. I let myself boo-hoo for a few minutes, and then I decided that no matter what life threw my way, I was going to enjoy my birth experience. And I did, even when life threw me on an operating table for a C-section. I still had a good time joking with the doctors who were arguing over which side of my body to set my organs (this is what they told me over the sheet, and I asked them to play nice and get on with it.)
The point is - we think things should happen in a certain way, the way we fall in love, the way we move through our careers, the way we raise our children, the way we drive to work every day. Then life throws in a curve ball.
An idealist would stand there and get whacked upside the head or dodge the pitch entirely. A realist would prepare himself by adjusting his position so he can jump for the ball, maybe skinning his knees as he dives to catch it, and the ball lands in his glove with a good, solid, controlled "smack."