“Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing.” – Victor Hugo
If you are anything like me life is in part a constant struggle between acting logically – doing what is expected of me, what is right and what is proper – and doing what is enjoyable and fun. Freud described it as the struggle between ego and id.
The ego is there to make sure that we don’t spend our whole paycheck on vacations, fancy dinners and entertainment but that we save enough to pay the rent/mortgage, the utility bills, save for our kids college education, old age or a rainy day.
The id represents our passions – it is the part of us that pushes against boundaries, doesn’t accept limitations or – at times – even logic. The ego calmly and rationally states “impossible” and the id stamps its feet and demands to know, “why not?”
On September 12, 1962 at Rice University President John F. Kennedy said:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
The calm, rational logic of the state of the science of the day would have argued that getting to the moon in the next ten years was not practical or achievable. The aspiration he expressed embodied the balance between ego and id – reality and desire – practicalality and aspiration. Over the next ten years aspiration wrestled successfully with practicality and the dream became reality – man made it to the moon.
Colin Powell reminds us that, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Hard work can at times feel like a burden – perhaps that accounts for the popularity of movies and books about magic and super-powers – the wish that we can learn to wave a wand, recite an incantation and make our aspiration become real without the sweat, determination and hard work.
So the next time you decide to tilt at windmills, “Follow your heart but take your brain with you.” – Alfred Adler