Realism Is NOT A Sign Of Defeat

Realism is a light

Knock! Knock!
Who’s there?
I am a realist, a poet and a friend.
The door didn’t open.
I stood there, wondering…did I say something out of place?

I didn’t give up and knocked again, softly.
What do you want?
‘Nothing.’ I couldn’t say a word beyond that.
Expectations? Did I say I don’t have any?

Often I tell myself – expectations are emotional signposts that stunt your growth.

While trying to keep them at bay, introspection pays an unexpected visit…

I know this world is skeptical. I know nobody likes to befriend a realist.

I have been turned away like that a thousand times yet I didn’t learn any lessons.

When I met fantasy, she took me beyond the horizon and introduced me to the stars but their incandescence couldn’t blind me.

Those flights were like lying in a hammock and I could perceive some magnificent hues, relaxing and gathering some fantastic confetti to sprinkle upon my words.

She also whirl-winded through the corridors of romance, riding on the waves of ecstasy but I didn’t lose my sanity. I couldn’t soak myself in the fragrance of fickle-hearted, frivolous love despite its alluring attraction.

When I met mystery, she took me into the darkest tunnels where cobwebs tried to block my vision. Darkness could not hold me for too long as the eternal optimist within me keeps me humored all the time.

Melodrama couldn’t lure me and I refused to be carried away by its teary-eyed hypocrisy.

Thrilling adventures did hook me but their enticement was short lived as my mentor was always breathing in my ear the admonishing words in a firm tone.

Observation and intuition have been my best pals! I still love them.

Realism keeps me grounded. It connects me with people, their emotions and experiences of life.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward 

I met realism very early in life when I was just beginning to form my memories. I remember him clearly standing in the door, with scary daggers in both his hands, reminding me to remain indoors.

He told me, ‘you are a girl in a men’s world.’ This warning developed my emotional quotient and intuition.

He walked with me all the time, threatening to knock me into a drain. One day he did so when I refused to listen to him and jumped ahead to buy a candy.Realism quote

The rebel within me leaped out each time to scratch his face. Some times I did succeed in dodging him but that only exposed my own imprudence.

He revealed to me the travails of life; the aches and the hurts that he gave me steeled me. He acquainted me with the secrets and diktats of my culture. He taught me to pour an embittered heart into a cauldron and ignite it with my words. I grew up with his cues and his decrees became a part of my personality.

An internal rebel, I yearned to break free. There is no doubt that realism can be stifling at times.

Freedom did grace my home and the precious wings that I cherished were spontaneously passed on with realistic values to the next generation.

Realism keeps me focused yet a little dose of fantasy makes a coveted cocktail of poetic delight. Emotions too keep peeping in though I have learnt to channelize them. When I look at my early poetry, completely driven by emotions I marvel at my personal growth and the whole credit goes to introspection.

“Realism can break a writer’s heart,” said Salman Rushdie…such is the power of realism but I have reconciled with him as he has mentored me all my life.

How much of a realist are you?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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41 thoughts on “Realism Is NOT A Sign Of Defeat

  1. A lovely post, Balroop. The William Arthur Ward quote is perfect and sums up a lot about the effectiveness of the different outlooks. I’m glad you push at the boundaries enough to dream your poetry into being. 🙂

  2. Yes, it’s funny. We’re both realists and optimists at the same time. I think it’s the only sane way to live. And it will see us through life’s end, wondering what’s next without blinders on. Good points, all! ❤

    1. Thanks for endorsing realism Bela but being a realist doesn’t mean we can’t hang out with fantasy. Actually we can put those blinders on occasionally to swing and twirl with her and extract some fine verses 🙂

      1. Precisely. Yet the difference, as I see it anyway, is that realists *know* it’s fantasy. Many assume fantasy to be reality and are perpetually disappointed when their illusions are shattered, over and over again. Cheers, Balroop!

  3. I enjoyed your post, Balroop, Life puts us through the fires of hell, and rips the blinders from our eyes so that we cannot hide from what really is, instead of what we want it to be. I am enough of a realist to know this. However, hope feeds my soul, and when realism is too much for me to handle, I escape to the land of second chances, what-ifs, and maybe-it will-be-different-this-times. It’s the way I cope with things, the way my soul survives. It is not that I am frivolous, (well, maybe just a tad) but that I am selective.

    1. Thanks for the revisit Becky, it is a great pleasure to have you here. Hope you are doing well
      I absolutely agree with you…when realism becomes overwhelming, we all tend to escape for a short while, have fun and then return to our roots to handle what life offers us. In fact all people have to return to reality sooner or later and deal with their problems. Adventure and fantasy are just streamers that add a little color to our life.
      Many thanks for adding your perspective to the discussion. Stay blessed!

  4. It sounds like you had quite a tussle with realism, and I smiled when I read you felt like a rebel. That doesn’t seem like you at all! Love the George Saunders quote. There is a time and now for everything. A lot of the time we may feel stuck, but perhaps we have to be a certain place to learn a lesson before we can forge ahead. Glad that rebel within you today has broken free and is replaced by a continuing confidence for poetry 😊

    1. I am glad I don’t seem to be rebel…I have mellowed a lot but when it comes to fighting against injustice or raising my voice, I would still stand tall! I couldn’t fight the dagger-eyed realism as a girl but learnt to handle him well later on but by that time I had also learnt the good aspects of being a realist. The poet in me also helped me in proving that realism is not a sign of accepting defeat. 🙂 Thank you Mabel, for understanding my views so well.

  5. Realism, along with its cousins pragmatism, practicality, level-headedness, clear-sightedness, matter-of-factness and common sense is the best armoury in life’s journey and your post, Balroop, captures it in a delectable cocktail. The only caution to be observed is to ensure that realism is not stretched backwards into cynicism and pessimism, either of which ends up killing initiative and the spirit of enterprise that propels life forward on the path of growth.

    1. You insights are always delightfully philosophical Raj and many thanks for mentioning the cousins of realism…they ensconce each other so well that it is difficult to tear them apart and accept them as a package deal 🙂
      You are so right, cynicism kills the spirit of marching ahead and may even hamper our growth…that’s why some people consider realism to be equivalent to accepting defeat. Thanks for mentioning the cynics but they are scoffed at in the modern era of fast-paced, competitive life.

  6. I am very much an optimist, Balroop. I have rode the wave of ecstasy. This: “…a little dose of fantasy makes a coveted cocktail of poetic delight.” I adore that line! My Beau is a realist through and through and it drives me crazy at times but mostly I appreciate his common sense. Loved this so much!!

    1. Your Beau must be a great balancing factor in your life Lisa and I am glad that you appreciate his realism. Good couples are those who complement each other and that’s why they seem an attraction. Put two realists together and that could be disastrous!

  7. A wonderful article Balroop. It’s amazing how wonderful hindsight is. Some may misconstrue realism with pessimism, but you explain it beautifully, and love this: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward . A great summation. 🙂

    1. Thank you Debbie for standing by! There are some who are guided by this misconception, that’s why they call realism – a sign of defeat but I have learnt most of my positivity from realism. 🙂

  8. A great post that really got me thinking, Balroop. I’ve always considered myself an optimist; but in reality, I’m always willing to “adjust the sail” when Ms.O (optimism) whispers her little somethings in my mind, reminding me that “believing” and “doing” can accomplish much as partners. Thanks! 🙂 xo

  9. ‘Adjusting the sail’ has come to me after some harsh experiences but I would still resist it where my self-esteem is at stake. I can go an extra mile in doing the right things but would choose to drown or fight in the case of compromising with injustice, discrimination and abuse.
    Thanks for sharing your view Bette, much appreciated.

    1. Well said Jeri, life becomes easier when we learn to accept reality and stretch ourselves to go with the flow. Thanks for standing by to share your reflections.

  10. Beautiful, thought-provoking writing, Balroop. The tussle between pessimism, realism, and optimism is for real. I absolutely love the quote by William Arthur Ward. I would say that it makes a healthy combination when realism forms the base, optimism the wrapper, and fantasy forms the icing on the cake.

    1. You are SO right Somali and I love your ‘healthy combination of cake’…though I scrape of the icing before eating a cake, I would happily consume this one. 🙂 Thanks for your lovely words.

  11. This post is so much fun to read and ponder. My first reaction is to say I’m not a realist, but that’s totally untrue. There are times I don’t WANT to be a realist, but over time I’ve figured out it’s the best way to be, mingled with some fantasy and day-dreaming. 🙂

  12. I agree with you Pam…we love to hang out with fantasy, adventure lures us into his arms, showing us how colourful life could be yet we have to come home to face the facts! Hope is a wondrous pal who keeps us grounded as well as lets us into the realms of our dreams. An amalgamation of all these friends keeps me going through the rough patches. 🙂 Thanks for your thought-provoking reflections.

  13. Without realism there can be no fantasy. Ergo, I prefer realism. Perhaps that is why coming up with inventive, imaginary plots is the biggest challenge I face in my writing. However, my familiarity with realism allows me to fill those fantasies with believable (yes, realistic) detail that makes the whole thing work. Give me realism, or give me nothing at all . . . Ha! Ha! 🙂

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