I recently read a book that lead me to watch a documentary on the building of Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral being built in Barcelona, Spain. As I looked at the structure, the columns, the soaring spaces within and the pinnacles without I couldn’t help but wonder what might the thoughts of its creator architect, Antoni Gaudi, have been as he was dreaming it up. Did he imagine when he was first putting his pencil to paper that the building would take well over a century to complete? That he would never live to see it done? That the plans would be destroyed along the way and others would have to interpret how he intended it to look? That money would have to be raised not from within the church but from private funding in order to build it? If he had focused on that, the first shovel full of dirt wouldn’t have ever been removed. Is the end result of the cathedral, which is scheduled to be finished in 2026 going to be exactly like Gaudi envisioned? No. Along the course of construction materials had to be changed, technologies changed and innumerable things had to be reinterpreted. That doesn’t make the results any less spectacular. Even in its unfinished state, it attracts millions of visitors every year who marvel at the results of Gaudi’s vision.
It’s so easy to be negative, a pessimist, or a party-pooper. I can always look around and find things that are wrong or aren’t going well. I’m not sure why. When someone is positive and bright about the possibilities of the future there always seems to be someone who will say they ‘aren’t being realistic’. Why do we consider that the negative result of something we’re working toward is more real than the positive? Why is failure more ‘real’ than success? Why do so many people think that it’s unrealistic to have an attitude that things are going to work out?
I think it has to do with expectations. In life there are many variables and few guarantees. The pessimist loves to focus on those, the things that ‘might go wrong’, the people who will ‘let us down’, and all of the possible things that might fall short of the ‘perfect’ result. I’m coming to learn that it’s the ‘process’ that is the important part of anything we do, not the results that matter. Another way of looking at the saying: “It’s the journey not the destination that matters.” Life consists in meeting the challenges and solving the problems that we face, not lamenting that the path is uneven and rocky.
We need dreams in order to move forward. We need to focus on our visions of what can be and work toward those things. We live and work in the present to make those dreams a reality. The pessimist and the party-pooper often don’t even begin a project because the results might not be exactly as they expected they should be. Push ahead. Today’s dreams will only ever become tomorrow reality if I work toward them.