Do you see yourself in these words?
“Romanticism, perhaps the most sublime of afflictions, is a congenital psychic disorder whose symptoms are evident throughout life. In childhood the romantic writes poetry and dreams of grand and noble exploits. As a youth he embraces causes and fights for them with reckless bravery– which is easy enough for him to do, since he is unable to imagine that failure or defeat is possible. He falls in love once, passionately, and for life. He is spirited, gallant, and bold and sees high drama where others see blandness. He inspires admiration and loyalty in some, envy and hatred in others; he can be charming and witty but not genuinely humorous, for though life to him is always a joyful affirmation, it is never funny. Like the sentimentalist, the dreamer, and the do-gooder, the romantic is ruled by his heart rather than his head. Unlike them, he is also tough-minded and realistic, and that creates within him a turbulence they never know: he drives himself to excel, requires discipline of himself far beyond other men, is ever concerned with honor, sometimes excessively.” -Forrest McDonald
I really wish I’d written this definition. Because it’s dead on. Romanticism certainly can be the ‘most sublime of afflictions’. But all traits of character must be watched, because when used wrongly, they can become detrimental to one’s happiness along with such inherently bad ones as cowardice or vanity. Traits that aren’t absolute virtues like patience or kindness can easily be corrupted. Or simply ignored and left to simmer in a dark corner, breeding discontent or rebellion. In fact, I maintain that to keep your character uncorrupted, you must use every facet of it for a good purpose. What use is it to be an idealist if you do not find the best ideals to pursue? What good is it to be naturally diligent if you are not constantly working hard to further your most cherished principles and plans? As for the romantic, why dream up such beautiful fancies if you don’t even know where your heart lies? A romantic, an idealist… these will latch onto any promising opportunity or idea, if not checked. I’m not saying they should be checked, but one must be certain that the idea or opportunity which seems so fascinating is actually worth pursuing and fighting for. For example, Alexander Hamilton was, among other things, a romantic and an idealist. And he was one who chose his ideals carefully. Extensive study, varied experiences and acquaintances- these helped him weed out the unworthy causes and settle on the ones which had the most potential. Once he discovered those causes, he bent himself to work with a will, because he knew how noble his chosen calling was. Throughout his life, he gave himself to America- to her government and to her people (even though he was dissatisfied with them), and worked along with other valiant men to make his country the grandest in the world. He saddled his romanticism and made it work for him, instead of following blindly any path which presented itself in a pleasant light. And these idealistic and romantic tendencies of his didn’t hinder him- they assisted him in a great work. A fight that was worth winning.
Are you a ‘hopeless romantic’? I guess I would fit under that category as well. And you and I have no business hiding behind our dreams or sighing for impossibilities. Get out of yourself and make the world beautiful. I’m not saying ‘follow your dreams’. Because some of our dreams are not worth following, and might just lead us to a dreary dead end. But some of them are truly noble. How do you know which to pursue? Think of the Master of the mind, the Healer of the heart, the Savior of the soul. I think He might be able to tell you. =)