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An “ideal” by definition is a standard of perfection, a principle to be aimed at, a level of excellence that individuals compulsively try to attain. When compared to the truth, ideals become unrealistic. Many individuals strive to attain perfection, remaining oblivious to the disappointment they are likely to face when they realize perfection is unattainable. It is paramount that individuals challenge themselves to reach beyond their boundaries and strive towards a standard of perfection, however, it is equally crucial that individuals are aware of their limitations and that in reality there are tasks beyond their abilities. In the excerpt from “The Novice” by W.D. Valgardson, the writer expresses that idealism will most often be trumped by the truth, and therefore an idealistic view without limitations will ultimately lead to frustration and heartache. In the poem “Prayer for Horizon” by Gwyneth Lewis, the poet develops the idea that one must set high expectations for themself, but to also look at those expectations honestly, and recognize when they have passed the range of possible. When individuals view life through an idealistic scope they often become blinded to the truth of their own reality. In order to avoid self-destruction, one must strive to find balance between idealism and truth, in all pursuits of their life.
The depiction of the first mate in the excerpt from “The Novice” is based upon pursuing ideals unrealistically, and having to face the consequences of putting too much emphasis on an irrational endeavour. From a young age the first mate’s time was mainly occupied by working on the docks, ultimately leading to his single-minded passion: Sally Anne. He trusted Sally Anne with his life. This boat was a white and majestic shrine, in his opinion, and he refused to recognize any of its faults; any signs of wear would be repaired by a patchwork job. But, as the Sally Anne foundered, sinking to the bottom of the “Narrows”, it became clear that even the most intricate, complex, and flawless plans, fail. The first mate had an intense faith in his boat, believing that his “carefully worked-out plan” was bulletproof, unable to be harmed or affected by external forces. However, realism proves that wear and tear is inevitable. Destruction could have been avoided, but his stubbornness and refusal to face the truth led to his own personal failure. In the most compelling statement from the excerpt, W.D. Valgardson exclaims that “his faith in the boat had been so overwhelming that he had to force himself to realize it had been destroyed”. The first mate’s obsessive, consuming, and near neurotic confidence in the boat obstructed his ability to view the situation realistically, and prepare for adversity. The first mate began to realize that the boat was, in fact, susceptible to defeat and mortality, and this unforeseen awakening forced him to develop a more realistic approach. These characteristics can easily be translated to everyday life. When one overestimates their ability, the repercussions are immense. As much as individuals like to believe they live in a “perfect world”, the truth will constantly be working against them, pulling them back into reality. Failure, corruption, and disappointment can all be avoided when one commits themself to respecting the boundary between possible, and fantasy.
In the thought inducing poem “Prayer for Horizon” the narrator justifies the need for a balance between idealism and truth in one’s life. Similarly to the first mate in the previous text, the narrator possesses an exceedingly optimistic standpoint, and believes in having an “unimpeded view”, freeing oneself from any hindrances or obstructions to success. Unlike the first mate however, the narrator acknowledges the value in boundaries and limitations to one’s ambitions. Life will present individuals with endless possibilities, however, one must pursue undertakings that are within their capabilities. A boundary is not a line, rather a cure. Present, but forgiving. Boundaries should not be feared, for they are merely guidelines to achieving success. But again, there is a fine distinction between “what we may calculate and what we can’t”. It is essential that all actions are backed up with logical, rational thought. Individuals must be cautious not to over-exert themselves, and cause unnecessary harm. Every so often the truth may confront individuals with a reality-check, but it should not deter them from attaining their goals, rather embrace it as a reminder of their limits. And once one has reached their “event horizon”, achieving all that they possibly can, it becomes their responsibility to guide others towards their own. Balance between idealism and truth is attained when an individual is granted “the gift of knowing where your own knowing ends”.
Fundamentally, when one is acutely aware of the perimeters they must adhere to, their goals and objectives become clear, and comprehensible. The truth becomes a road map which guides individuals towards triumph. The texts exemplify that individuals must seek equilibrium within their life, both fiercely seeking idealism, and weighing out the realism of their ambitions. Hypothetically, one must continually challenge themself to attain perfection, otherwise they will plateau and experience minimal improvement. However, unrestrained idealism induces fake confidence in one’s potential, ultimately becoming responsible for failure and corruption later on.

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