The Pervasive Idealism

Of all the labels others have tried to stick to me in my life, there seems to be one that keeps coming around, no matter what face I may choose to wear or what path I am travelling: Idealist. It seems to be the place where my discussions with those who hold fundamentally different belief systems come unravelled, the convenient expiration date on their patience. Whether the topic at hand is war, abortion, religion, or love, apparently a discussion of theory behind our decision making process is enough to be categorized as an idealist, and thereby dismissed.

The Free Dictionary defines “idealism” as follows:

1. The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form.
2. Pursuit of one’s ideals.
3. Idealized treatment of a subject in literature or art.
4. Philosophy The theory that the object of external perception, in itself or as perceived, consists of ideas.

It seems that the first definition is the one people most commonly like to toss about with the personal epithet. Think about that. The notion that envisioning “a standard or model of perfection or excellence”, or “An honorable or worthy principle or aim” could be considered a bad thing. If we have no idea where we want to go, how can we possibly expect to get there? Of course, we must also be able to see clearly what ground we currently stand upon, and be able to conceive of a path from our current situation to our ideal. What is worth noting, however, is that by this definition of the term, we are all idealists. The only differences between us lie in how we envision our ideals. Continue reading

Poltergeists, Superpowers, and The Tao

When I was about ten years old, my Mom laid down the law: I was old enough to sleep in my room with the door closed and the light off. I don’t know exactly why she felt compelled to declare such a policy at that time, though it could have had something to do with her being sick of me rushing into her room at three in the morning begging her to help me shake off the nightmares and subsequently keeping her up half the night. Whatever the reason, it backfired. As I was lying in my pink canopy bed, covers pulled up to my nose and literally shaking from fear in the moonlit room, toys began to fly off the shelves. First the plastic Barbie horse fell off the dresser with a light, clanky noise. Then the china collectibles began to crash to the floor, one after another, splintering into thousands of tiny pieces in a cacophony of tinkles and jarring miniature explosions, accompanied by my high-pitched screaming. I don’t actually remember my parents coming into the room, but the horse collection was never the same. And the light stayed on, after that, night after night for a long time. Continue reading