I have been thinking about this post for days. A recent conversation gave me food for thought. I’m no philosopher, and I will hopelessly simplify a subject that could be studied for many lifetimes. After a great deal of thought, I now believe that there are three basic types of people: people who are realists, people who dream, and people who live a life in a world created by their own fantasy.
I’m a dreamer.
No doubt about it. Sometimes I have to literally force myself back to reality. I imagine and suppose. I strive. I push. I am never satisfied. When something is good, I hope for more. That doesn’t mean that I am never happy. What it means is that I am never done learning, and trying, and hoping. I want to make more successes and more happiness. If something is fun, I want to do it again and again. While this dreamy side of me sometimes works to my advantage, it often means that I leave the more boring, mundane duties of life until the last possible moment. I will go on great business trip, learn a lot at a conference, make great connections while networking, but then I leave the travel expense reports and required paperwork until the last moment. (That usually means a couple of friendly reminders from the department secretary.) Logically, I know that the this paperwork is important and must be done, but it seems so worthless and non-productive to me. Paperwork is just one example. I could cite hundreds of examples of times when I have left the less than fun aspects of a project, or just daily life, until the last possible moment.
It is my birthright to be a dreamer. My dad was the same way. It was one of the reasons I loved him so dearly and why we were so close. He “got” me. I understood him, too. He felt emotions so deeply. He was touched inside by words, poetry, music, a beautiful scene in nature. I can still see the goose bumps rise on his arms as we spoke deeply, late at night in the darkened kitchen or when a song on the radio touched him. Oh yes, I understood all of that. Even now, with Dad gone, I feel the things that would have moved him.
T is a realist. He believes in nothing….literally. He does not believe in heaven or hell. He doesn’t believe in God. He does not believe in the spirits I see and feel all around us. He believes in life, and he believes in death. He believes in what he can see and touch and taste and smell. All other things, he leaves for people like me, the gullible dreamers.
T is a good, kind, dependable man. He is a law-abiding citizen. He pays his bills. He eats three square meals each day, exercises, and gets plenty of rest. He works hard, and he works well. He is satisfied doing the same job he has had for over thirty years. He has never wanted more, or maybe he has, but he has not tried for more. His job provides all that he requires in his life. He is familiar with it. He’s good at his job. He has freedom to make his own schedule, spends time outdoors, enjoys his co-workers.
Sometimes I feel sorry that T has been saddled for life to a woman like me. Often, I know I am a curiosity to him. For a couple who has been married almost 27 years, I often feel we are mismatched. I feel inadequate. T deserves a better, calmer, more down to earth kind of woman. He deserves someone practical and calm. He would appreciate a woman like that. Not that he doesn’t appreciate me, but he would admire such a woman.
He liked it best during the years when I stayed home with the kids. I cleaned, baked, and parented. Those were things he understood. It’s more difficult for him now. While he is interested in my work, I know he doesn’t understand why it is so important to me. Why do I thrive on the stress at times? Why do I like having so many irons in the fire? Why don’t I want something that takes less of my energy? Why wouldn’t I be happy just to BE HOME? (Big, huge UGGGHHH!)
We’re working through all of these career-related changes. I have been proud at the progress he has made in seeing me in this different role, a role that has changed all of our roles. It has been a bumpy road, but the changes have been good for T, too. He has been forced a bit outside of his comfort zone. It’s not all black and white around here anymore, and T has had to spend quite a bit of time in the gray areas, too.
While I am a dreamer and chase that feather floating in the air above my head, and T is carefully placing one foot in front of the other and staying right on track, there is a third type of person I have encountered at times in my life. This is a more rare type of person, indeed. A person whose life is based on fantasy can even be dangerous. They may consider themselves to be realists when in fact they are living their own (maybe even twisted) version of reality. People who live a life of fantasy are capable of causing great harm or simply never amounting to much at all. They are lazy. Fantasizers are simply too lazy to be real AND too lazy to chase their dreams. Both of those things are too much work. They are too egocentric to care about anything beyond what feels right and good to themselves at that particular moment in time. They don’t connect the dots. Heck, they don’t even SEE the dots! They want immediate, instant gratification, and they will do whatever it takes to feel good from one moment to the next. They are looking for the quick fix, the easy way out. They live for the moment.
I’ve known a few Fantasy-driven people in my lifetime. One of them is a colleague from a different city. I see her several times each year. Her life is a mess. She has had two failed marriages, and is living now unhappily as a single mother. Each time I see her, she is deeply in love with the man of the moment. He’s always “the one.” Sad things is, it’s a different “one” each time we meet. I have sat listening as this woman tells me for hours about Mr. Right and then watched her head off to her room with Mr. Guy-Who-Happened-To-Be Sitting-At-The-Bar.
Another Fantasizer I know was a former board member. He was an extremely intelligent man with a vast knowledge of historic preservation. With some effort, he could have had a wonderful career. Instead, he was always looking for the goose with the golden egg. He was always trying to “make a deal” with some developer with deep pockets who would finance a project for him. So many times, he got his hopes up, but they were dashed to the ground when his true colors showed through,
and for whatever reasons, the projects failed. No, he failed. He failed to produce. He may have been knowledgeable, but he was not capable of the hard work involved to see a project through to the end.
I have often berated myself for not being more like T, more grounded, or more detail oriented. Certainly, he would not be sitting up at 1:00 A.M. blogging on a workday! The older I get, though, the more I am comfortable with who I am and how I am. My quest to know and learn and dream has, at times, led me down paths I would have preferred not to travel. Along the way, though, I have learned, and I have grown as a human being.
I come from a long line of dreamers. As I begin to see that quality emerge in my own children, I feel sense of wonder and awe. There it is….a part of me, a part of my dad, a part of my grandma. All of us dreamers. I hope my children are led in beautiful directions as they follow their own dreams.