An Idealist by any other name…

When I was at the grocery store today a man approached me in the parking lot having seen my license plate and asked me to define "idealist".  I have to say I struggled with the pop quiz and finally settled on this, "That’s me…not content to settle with what others’ say is the reality." I realized right then and there that I needed to come up with a more profound answer based on some accepted resource for the next time I was asked about my plate.

I often get comments on my license plate – mostly folks just comment that it fits me.  Most folks get right away that it stands for Idealist, but there was the one fella’ who asked me a long time ago where the Ideal Street was. My friend Dave has been known to tell folks that while everyone assumes my plate means Idealist it really means Idea List -he then goes on to explain that I am a bottomless pit full of ideas and projects that I want to work on with others.  I have to laugh when I think of that and I am fine with him sharing that interpretation as Dave has been gracious enough to partner on many a project with me and he deserves at least that.

I am not always an idealist in practice…some days I am a decided realist, but if you ask most folks to choose between the two when it comes to me the vast majority will point to idealist.  When I got the plate I did so under the general mindset that I stated to the gentleman in the parking lot – not content to settle with what others’ say is the reality.  It makes sense to me, but  after being quizzed on it I thought I better go look up the definition of the word on the web to see if my definitional frame had any support. 

Here are a few of the things I found:

Idealist -  someone guided more by ideals than by practical considerations (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn).  

Idealist – someone whose conduct stems from idealism rather than from practicality; an unrealistic or impractical visionary (en.wiktionary.org/wiki/idealist).

Idealism – impracticality by virtue of thinking of things in their ideal form rather than as they really are (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn).

Idealism – the philosophical theory that maintains that the ultimate nature of reality is based on the mind or ideas (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idealist).

Hmmmm….not guided by practical considerations…unrealistic or impractical visionary – oh my, that does not sound like a sensible person.  I am not offering that up as an explanation for my license plate. 

I am a tad fonder of the theoretical construct of idealism that offers that the ultimate nature of reality is based on the mind or ideas…at least that sounds like it is based in something deep and profound.  Alas,  it still allows plenty of room for interpretation by others as unrealistic or impractical folly.

Alrighty then, I guess the definition used will remain the impromptu one uttered today in the grocery store parking lot:

Idealist – A person with the characteristics of Carol who is not content to settle with what others’ say is the reality (www.areavoices.com/thenewforty). 

Hey, if Wikipedia can host definitions so can The New Forty…after all, it is written by an idealist who is not content to settle with what others’ say is the reality.  There you have it…I created my own reality…some of you will not be one bit surprised. ;-)

Day three hundred and seventy of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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2 Responses to An Idealist by any other name…

  1. Avatar of jimlindlauf jimlindlauf says:

    I’m not an idealist, but I like your definition. Sometimes I confuse idealism with criticism, especially when someone is pointing out how my work is less than ideal in their eyes. For those annoying people, I think “I DEAL S**T” may be appropriate! After reading your blog daily for over a year, however, and seeing the diversity of your topics, I think “IDEA LIST” fits you best!

  2. Avatar of Ms. C Ms. C says:

    GFBison ~ well said!! I’ll let Dave know he has an ally in his interpretation! ;-)

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