Bridging The Gap

15 January 2010, by A. Cedilla

What with all the advances in modern technology, cultural and social shifts, and the many freedoms that we have the luxury of taking for granted, with everything that we can do with these resources — why do so many people feel they’re not living the life they’re supposed to be living by now?

The answer lies in the gap between all your plans and your reality.

  • “This wasn’t part of the plan, dammit.”
  • “I coulda been a contender!” — Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy, On the Waterfront, 1954
  • “This isn’t what I wanted. I had so many plans, I never expected things to turn out the way they have….”

There is an inevitable gap between the Real and the Ideal, precisely because of what they are. Ideals live in a purely theoretical state. See the definitions we yanked from Wiktionary under ‘Ideal’ (More on this later.):

  • Optimal; being the best possibility.
  • Perfect, flawless, having no defects.
  • Existing only in the mind; conceptual, imaginary.

Real is sweaty, tiring and smelly. It is not a 3-D iMax full Sensurround experience you can walk away from.

It’s being here, all the time. And the realm of the Ideal is where we run to escape from the Real.

“When I loss weight, get promoted, get married, get divorced, graduate, see my name up in lights…then I’ll be happy.”

And when you do get those things, you experience a few moments of happiness…followed by a teeny voice that only pipes up when you take a moment alone in your head.

“That didn’t feel as good as I thought it would…or last as long.”

We spin fantasies and end up disappointed that the real thing isn’t as good.

Real is hard.

Real can be you hammering out the 15,000th line of code when you’re blinking so much you can barely see the screen and you can’t feel your lower back –or your ass– anymore.

It’s getting up after a blip of sleep, seeing the kids off ready for school, and then slogging off to your Cubicle of Despair to work on your reports. And then squeezing time on the commute to get the milk.

Real burns the muscles of the body as well as of the soul.

Real is work. Real is labor.

And, like babies, labor can bring ideals (and ideas), into life. Ideal is what you want, Real is how you make it. (More on this, much later.)


Now, going back to the definitions of Ideal:

1) Optimal; being the best possibility
This is the most honest, realistic and workable definition of Ideal, one which we implement in our daily lives.

We dream and plan to make the best of what we have on hand, to build something better in the future by making the best possible choice we can in the present.

2) Perfect, flawless, having no defects.
Paper plans and mental images aside, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

For example, you may have the greatest strategy in the history of wrestling, but everything comes out on the mat. Everything.

And you can’t plan or fantasize or dream your way through it, you just do it.

3) Existing only in the mind; conceptual, imaginary.
The state of Ideal furthest away from Real, and the definition with the most potential to hurt.

Part 2 will deal with more strategies on bridging the gap, so we’ll leave you with the following quote from Harry Potter to think on.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” — Dumbledore to Harry, by J.K.Rowling

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