Are you a Pragmatist or a Dreamer? Do you prefer to spend your time in reality or a world all your own?
For whatever reason, this question has been on my mind a lot lately, possibly because there is such a dichotomy staring me in the face every day. Reality TV vs scripted drama. Non-fiction reading vs novels. Documentaries vs movies. Improvisational theater vs a musical show. Symphony vs opera. Rock concert vs mp3-player. Anderson Cooper vs Jon Stewart.
Obviously, all of us need to spend at least some of our time in reality–balancing checkbooks, making sure there’s food on the table, looking for cars before crossing the street. Basic, real-world activities. But, we can’t forget the non-real pleasures like losing yourself in a good novel, or the adrenalin rush of a suspense thriller (or a roller-coaster).
I know any number of people who pride themselves on being hard-core realists–they never read anything other than business sites, newspapers, or other forms of non-fiction. If they watch something on television other than the news, it’s, possibly, a sports broadcast, or the food network. Spending time on something fictional is considered unproductive. How can something “untrue” help their business? Sloppy, make-believe thinking is just a distraction, and being “creative” is a waste of time.
Needless to say, I think that’s short-sighted. How many practical, successful inventions started with a dream? “What if we didn’t have to hand-write every book, but could come up with a way to print them?” “What if there were a way to light a room with electricity?” “What if we sliced the bread before we sold it?” “What if we take that round thing and turn it into a wheel?”
If you don’t open yourself up to things that aren’t “real,” you could be missing out on a wealth of opportunities.
I’m not saying that everybody should stop writing whatever it is they write to focus on fluffy, dreamy poetry. Or that they should embrace their inner sculptor, or start meditating to find their inner artist. Oh, no. Fairy tales are (mostly) for children and the occasional recreational moment. The “real world” demands hard work, and happily ever after only happens after you’ve paid your dues and fought for it. Right?
Well, yes and no. But certainly, opening yourself up to the possibility of thinking creatively can only be a good thing. A new way to describe something without using a cliche. A new way to market your product. A new way to cook chicken for dinner. A chance to be the first on your block to have a nifty new idea that will revolutionize life as we know it.
You can’t depend that your fairy godmother is going to wave her wand and make all your dreams come true, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave her an opening, in case she wants to.