How To Face Reality Without Romanticized Notions
In order to face reality, the absence of romanticism is a necessity. According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, “romanticism,” means: “something that lacks a basis in fact.”
And the old-school definition of the term in comparison to the way we use it today highlights an interesting fact of the average person’s experience across time.
The Word “Romantic”
People today use “romantic” as a positive term.
Girls will say, “oh, it’s so romantic,” as if it’s a synonym for the term, “passionate,” or “dreamy.” When something is romantic, it fuels or inspires the imagination. Part of what makes something is romantic is the fact that it can never actually happen in reality.
For instance, imagine a boy and girl who are in love, but due to a war on the other side of the world, the government calls for mandatory conscription of all men from ages 18 and up. The fact that the girl can’t have him because he’s going off to war is precisely the reason why that situation is romantic for her.
Humanity’s Experience Hasn’t Changed
The fact that she can’t have him is what makes her miss him so much. Ironically, if he were to dodge the draft so he could stay home with her, she would probably lose interest. The idea of them being together isn’t out of reach if he gets out of going to war. It’s no longer romantic.
If you do what this person says below, it will no longer be romantic, because if you’re romantic every time, no matter what, then it’s no longer romantic, is it?
To keep a girl you have to:
1) Keep your promises.
2) Be romantic no matter what.
3) Be honest with her 100% of the time.
— Think Different (@LifeLimits) May 11, 2018
Romance is an old word, and the mood or state it describes has been around for as long as humanity. And it’s amazing that humanity’s experience hasn’t been that much different despite all of our technological innovation.
And everything that’s ever been said has already been said. The “truths” of the universe and of the mind were already talked about 1500 years ago.
In Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations,” he lays out everything you could learn throughout life. Not trying to be a buzzkill, but your life lessons aren’t that unique. Someone has probably already talked about the things you’ve experienced – in some form or another – 1500 years ago.
The idea of romanticized notions is no different, and all of our modern technology just amplifies those old-school aspects of human life.
Social Media As A Romanticism Machine
All you have to do is scroll through your Instagram feed to see it.
As great as Instagram is to use, it’s a romanticism machine. It’s the social media platform that romanticizes nearly everything about life, depending on how one looks at it.
You could also argue that it highlights the beauty or the best thing about whatever it is that you’ve captured and posted online.
It is both.
It features the beauty of something, but you can only do that when you’ve romanticized it. And to face reality, you have to look at the whole picture.
In other words, you’re ignoring all of the negative aspects of it, and because of that, there isn’t a clear picture of what it really is.
Beauty is only possible if you’re ignoring the negatives
But isn’t that what beauty is in the first place?
When someone posts a picture of an omelette they just made that looks awesome, it doesn’t show them breaking the eggs and throwing the shells in the garbage, or the oil going into the pan; the cigarette they smoked while waiting for the pan to get hot, and the trouble it took to avoid breaking the yoke when flipping it over.
When you meet that girl, you’re seeing the finished product, after she’s put on her face, applied the foundation, the mascara, blush, lipstick, eye-liner, eye-shadow, and whatever else there is to it.
You’re looking through your Instagram feed. There are pictures of some of your friends at their best moments, partying. Maybe one in front of some castle in Ireland.
And you arrive at a photo of a travel blogger, sitting on the beach with a laptop placed in their lap.
(A video from Revolutionary Lifestyle Design pointed this out the other day)
Their feed is filled with images of a similar effect; their profile sends a message, one of: “my life is like this, every single day.”
Back-track to the past
Sitting across the bar from me was a girl who said, “I’m not sure why I’m telling you all of this, but I really want to be a writer, so I respect the fact that you’re doing this with your life. I think it’s really cool, you must have a cool life.”
“Thanks. Yeah, it certainly has its moments, but I think you might be romanticizing it a bit.”
“What do you mean?”
That person who’s sitting in front of their laptop like that on the beach: it’s all for the camera. Anybody who has done it before knows that it’s nearly impossible to sit on the beach with your computer in hand.
If your work requires 100% comfort and concentration, sitting in front of the ocean with the laptop on your lap like that is no good.
You can’t do it every single day, especially if you’re serious about your work.
For one, it’s hot, sticky; there’s a glare on the screen so you can’t see what you’re doing; the internet probably doesn’t work, and most of all, you can’t concentrate because of the noise and distractions.
The Average Person’s Illusions
People often have preconceived and romanticized notions of how great a particular lifestyle or way of being actually is.
There are giant downsides to nearly every way of living, ones that you have no idea about until you’re living it.
Maybe the biggest one is having a lot of money. There’s a classic song from Biggie Smalls, “More Money, More Problems,” and the title of the track describes the truth of being a super successful person who’s doing well.
The more money you make, the more responsibilities you have. More problems, jealousy, resentment, malevolence, hatred, scheming, frauds, and opportunism.
And on Post-Malone’s new album, there’s a track dealing with being famous and how it’s made him paranoid as if the world is out to get him for making it to the top.
He can’t even have a conversation with someone without them pulling out their phone for the sake of uploading some photo or video to Instagram.
Could you imagine dealing with that situation every single day, with almost every person you talk to? It’s probably mad annoying.
Yeah, sure, being rich, young, and famous would be sick, but the point here is that there are downsides to everything, ones you don’t foresee until you’re living it.
Everyone has an idea of how great things would be if only they had what they wanted.
There’s a brilliant quote from Jim Carrey that goes, “I wish everyone in the world accomplished whatever it is that they wanted because then they would realize it’s not the answer.”
Dealing with Unhappiness
This is why people like, Buddhists look to meditation and other religious practices; they attack the problem at its core: the mind. The mind is the problem, so they spend years trying to achieve enlightenment.
However, people subscribing to different disciplines and ways of living life debate the nature of human problems.
On the one hand, we have self-development style coaches telling everyone that it’s all about “building a business” and “building a passion,” but there are cases showing the contrary.
Maybe, it’s something else?
Why is it that people who have achieved so much in life are still unhappy at the top of their game? Even if they continue working on their craft.
Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Kurt Cobain, and Ernest Hemingway would understand what is meant by that.
Some think you can solve everything through exercise and diet, which is partially true. Diet and exercise are key agents in determining your happiness, but as I’ve argued in nearly every other article, in reality, one factor alone is rarely the cause of phenomena.
There is Never Just One factor
The idea that we can solve all of our problems with one thing is a romanticized notion, it’s the product of looking at things with rose-colored glasses, and not understanding the full effects of a mode of being.
Chris Cornell worked out throughout his entire life; he was constantly exercising, and mastering himself as an artist. Ironically, he strangled himself to death with a piece of exercise equipment.
He was in Soundgarden, Temple Of Dog, and most recently, Audioslave. His career as a solo-artist was nearly as good.
And Soundgarden sold 22 million records globally
Cornell was legitimately one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
Chester Bennington and Linkin Park were at the top of their game. Those guys have been selling out giant stadiums for the last 15 years consistently. He had a Playboy model wife, 5 kids, and was literally the epitome of a rock star.
They sold over 70 million records worldwide and are considered as the best-selling band of the 21st century.
Do these people not work hard? They had a mission, a purpose, but something else was missing.
Each Discipline And Subculture Has A Way Of Dealing With Problems
Is it just the mind? I can’t help but laugh at people who claim to be “enlightened.” Retreating out into the woods and spending 10 days consecutively sitting on a couch with zero stimulation is a cool idea. And I bet there are tremendous benefits of doing so.
But, there’s something about this that’s annoying. To be fair, I guess I could say it’s the misapplication of those disciplines’ teachings which are the problem.
“We fight for and against not men and things as they are, but for and against the caricatures we make of them” – J.A. Schumpeter
It’s not an either/or situation. You can still go out on a ten-day retreat with the intention of being in solitude, fighting against loneliness, learning to deal with it, while at the same time socializing with people, building a business, and working out every day.
It doesn’t have to be just one thing. You can do many things in life.
Reality Is Too Complex For The Human Mind
In an attempt to simplify the surrounding world, people divide everything into camps for the sake of blunting the edge of the knife of sophistication that IS the universe.
In other words, there are so many things happening at once, that we create categories to make everything comprehensible.
The effect of that is, for example, a person thinking the only thing that matters is getting super jacked in the gym, then all the women/men will come, and all of our problems will be solved.
When meeting another guy, the weight-lifter, fueled by his own insecurity, thinks to himself, “Yeah, sure, this guy dresses cool but is he as jacked as me? I can bench 315 for reps, this guy probably doesn’t even go to the gym.”
The business owner who’s crushing it and making $1 million per year after taxes thinks, “Sure, that musician is in front of an audience and girls are all screaming for him, but is he making $1 million per year like me?”
It literally goes and on with this shit; it never ends. And it’s all the result of people trying to compartmentalize the human experience, for the sake of simplifying it, to face reality, so we’re able to grasp reality in all of its sophistication.
We Don’t Know Anything
The complexity of the world is so beyond our understanding that humility is the only option. We’re just little apes, sitting at our computers with our monkey brains. We know literally nothing.
Just because you’ve read a few books written by another monkey, it doesn’t mean you’ve grasped even a crumb of the knowledge of the world.
Just because you watched Cowspiracy on Netflix, it doesn’t mean that you know even the first thing about farming and raising livestock. We don’t know anything, and no one is more ignorant than the person who proclaims to know everything.
To face reality is to understand there are massive downsides to everything.
To face reality is to understand that no one truly knows the nature of everything. For every study claiming one thing, there is a study arguing the opposite.
To face reality is to understand that, every sub-culture, whether it’s the clergy, businessmen, athletes, musicians, politicians, and philanthropists, prescribe solutions to problems that are predicated upon the themes of importance of that particular group.
It’s up to you to figure which culture is the most important to you, that way, the solutions prescribed will be the right ones.