Posted by on Friday 28th of August 12:19 PM
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Folks think about romanticism often in terms of love and relationships. That is true, but it also relates to other areas as well, as I found out.

What strikes me is how many people believe it's a bad thing. Women tend to have a negative opinion towards romanticism because they had bad experiences with significant others who promised heavens, who weren't able to realize their illusion.
In science, romanticism has a bad rep because it's unreal. It's not touchable. You can't predict whatever the result of a romantic thought is going to be.

That is all true, but looking closer we're all romantic to some degree. A scientist who works on their PhD has a romantic feeling towards their thesis. They believe a certain reality, that is only real to them, is, in fact, as real as it can be. They live in this world without it ever being real. Only after they finish their doctorate, it is a proven fact whether their original idea is reality or not.

That's another thing that strikes me. Being romantic means seeing a reality that is not there. It's dreaming. Dreaming up a possible reality.

Looking at relationships that means that you have to believe in a certain reality between you and the other person, that will eventually become reality. That thought of that reality becoming real is what creates drive. It's the factor that makes people get weak in the knees. They already see an eventual future, that is not real yet. To their partners it's not. To a romantic person, a reality can only come that way. Because all you need is that love that makes two people beyond, and after months of working on your relationship, it will become reality. True fact.

It is natural to believe the romantic reality, if you think about it. If you can't imagine a future with a certain person, why pursue? Why keep up with her or him beyond defeat? Why try again and fail and get hurt? We're not accepting a certain reality, and therefore we pursue.

Letting Go

Romanticism is particularly interesting to me, because it applies to other areas as well. Paul Chek has a great example here. Imagine you're stuck in traffic. You're late to the office. No car is moving forward or back. What are you doing about your situation? The romantic thought is that you can still make it to the office in time, if all those darn cars would just get out of your way. But reality tells you the exact opposite. You're stuck. You're going to be late. No matter how hard you try. People clinging onto that thought that they can make it, will get mad. Their imagination of the future just won't become reality.

But what happens if they let go of their thought? In Zen and Buddhism, and religions in general, they say: if you let go of your thought, beautiful things happen.

I'm going back to Paul's example because it makes so much sense here. If you're stuck and accept reality, that means you let the romantic thought go, you can come up with a new reality. Maybe you want to listen to some music? Now that you're late, it doesn't matter how you spend your time, right? Therefore you can also enjoy yourself.


So my point has been so far that a romantic thought is surreal, but it makes people go towards a reality. The romantic thought, however, is also what causes trouble, if the imagined reality doesn't come that way. Then we hang onto it, and do our best to turn things around, but it just doesn't come that way. Letting go, therefore, is the only option. Let go, come up with a new reality.

For Businesses

Same thing for businesses. Founders imagine a certain reality where we use flight boards or whathaveyou. That thing, however, is not yet real. People imagine that they can make a revenue by doing thing X repeatedly. The future will show whether that thought holds true.

Sometimes founders hold onto a certain romantic idea for such a long time, that they go bankrupt. Businesses close, never to be heard of again. If only the romantic folks had seen reality as clear as all the other folks who had seen a not-so-romantic reality coming. Right?

The truth is, it could have worked, too. In their reality it was clear that a certain future will become reality. It didn't turn out that way though. Shit happens. You can be angry that your future didn't work out, or learn, accept reality, and move forward.

If you listen to founders they usually say something like "fail early, fail often". One of the reasons they say that is that we need to figure out what reality can become true. We need to learn from the past, accept that this particular reality didn't work out, and move forward. We try out, and fail, we try something else, and fail, we try yet another, and it finally works.

That's also, I think, why certain businesses hold onto "a thing that works" longer than what's good for them, even when the business fails already. They have tried so many things until they finally found one thing that finally worked, that they just won't let it go again. Going back to the horrible world of searching again? Eventually, all businesses… fail.

The Question

So the question really boils down to this: Is it better to be romantic or be non-romantic, when it is evident that we need both.

No matter whether it's a relationship or business. You imagine a certain possible reality, and try to make it become real. It's what drives art. Art makes all those surreal realities be as real as possible, because we can draw, write, and sing so clearly and thoughtfully about things that never existed. And that's why we need art, by the way. Artists need to show us surreal realities that don't exist yet, so that we can go there. We need art to make us believe that we can make it, that we can win the girl. No matter how surreal or absurd it sounds. We won't accept reality, until reality is evident.