Idealism is the unrealistic pursuit of perfection. Emotionalism is seeing and experiencing the world and others through one’s emotions. Romanticism is the art of placing meaning and purpose at the heart of everything. Most of us suffer from these afflictions at one point in our lives. Some of us suffer one or more, chronically.
But the world is indifferent to our emotions, our idealistic pursuits and our poetic minds. Our fellow creatures must think we have ants-in-our-pants as we rush around trying to fix and/or redeem the imperfections of nature. We feel compelled to live somewhere between our ideas about the perfections of heaven and what we perceive as the cruelty of the blind force that propels inanimate matter into life through natural selection.
Chaos hangs in the balance.
Hang-on though. What about lemon drizzle cake? Truly a work of art. And an answer to our emotional strivings for meaning and perfection. Let us learn, from those who bake lemon drizzle cake, the art of letting-things-be. These people mix stuff together, sometimes called ingredients, and, with a certain mystery, and the wave of a magic wooden-spoon, a cake is conjured up. Nature is transformed. The human mastermind has produced something that could never have existed without it.
The purpose of lemon drizzle cake is friendship. Friendship is the art of being human. It is simplicity. Our human civilisation was built on a desire for power over others. It could, and should, have been built on friendship. But, oops, is that thought a bit idealistic? The world is what it is. Let it be.
Most of us have such small areas of influence. The media would like us to think that our spheres of influence are national and global but that’s a load of tosh. Our communities, our neighbours and our friends are our worlds. Is that a bit of romanticism slipping in? How embarrassing.
Overdosing on empathy is a thing. We cannot feel everyone’s pain. We have to let go at some point and make lemon drizzle cake (or coffee and walnut if you’re allergic to lemons). Living in your emotions, taking your own sadness, happiness, anger, insecurities and attaching them to just about anything and anyone who passes by is very unskilful. Doing that is like inviting rainclouds to perpetually hang over your house. How would anything ever grow in your garden? Lemons and walnuts need sunshine, not cloud.
In making lemon drizzle cake, or walnut and coffee cake (or apple cake if your allergic to lemons and/or walnuts), you make the world a better place. War doesn’t do that, nor does artificial intelligence or the stock-market, or standing on top of mount Everest.
So what am I saying? Well, the next time you feel the urge to be idealistic, or over emotional or if you feel yourself romanticising, bake a cake or go out and photograph trees or plant some radishes in your vegetable plot. Life is what it is. God exists, get over it. Don’t try to make the world in your image. Belong to your place. And if you’re pre-diabetic like me, go bake a broccoli soufflé (or of you allergic to broccoli, try spring cabbage).