Saturday, March 23, 2013

Further lessons in the Tao of Goldilocks

I learned quite some time ago to neither idealize nor demonize. Both are tempting, or at least they used to be. Should say I learned the hard way. Oh yeah.

Idealizing people or situations is not a pleasant condition. Whenever I fell into that romanticized state of being, it filled me with a deep yearning for something unattainable. It was frustrating. Another problem with idealizing is that it made me feel defective by comparison. I never idealized movie stars or artists, but I habitually projected a scrim of perfection on my teachers. I told myself it was respect but it added up to a lot more than that. I love learning more than almost anything, hence the rose colored glasses. When it became apparent that my teachers were real people, it was a shock.

Demonizing is a lot more fun though only temporarily satisfying. Demonizing people or situations is like scratching a mosquito bite; it feels good but shortly thereafter the itch returns, more insistent than before. Demonizing is a slippery slope. I've been down that slope many a time, too. It brought out the very worst in me. The Sufi acupuncturist says that kind of self righteous condemnation indicates lung heat. It would be great if it were that simple!

I'm thinking about this after spending some time today with a young mother who idealized what parenthood would be like. She has always wanted to have kids, always. At last she met a wonderful man, they married and soon thereafter, she was pregnant. Now that the scrim of the ideal has dropped by the wayside, now that she's sleep deprived, trying to juggle everything including her job (she has a big job), well, she's more than a bit disgruntled - and conflicted because she loves her baby with all her heart.

One of my great loves used to say repeatedly that unimaginative expectations lead inevitably to disappointment. In my mind, both idealization and demonization are filed under the category of unimaginative expectations.

Just like everyone else, I feel some regret that I didn't understand this earlier in life. Oh well.


ellen abbott said...

some things can only be learned through living and experience.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah.

Steve Reed said...

I once dated someone who was obsessed with an idealized version of what a relationship should be. Boy, was THAT fun. (Funny -- he's still single!)

Reya Mellicker said...

I am not surprised, Steve!