Realization etymologically roots to “action of making real,” and I would add either Mentally or Physically. This is seen in two of our main definitions (as given by the Oxford Dictionary).
1) An act of becoming fully aware of something as a fact
2) The fulfillment or achievement of something desired or anticipated
I find that the first definition is often the basis for the important events in our lives. By process of realization, we find what is important to us, what we find interesting, what things mean… Though I don’t entirely believe in teleological processes, I do find that in isolated events, Realization is both the beginning and the end. (Again, this is only perhaps as far as we can see it).
Realization as Beginning:
It dawned upon me; the light switched on; it clicked. These are a few ways of describing the moment of realization. In these phrases, the metaphor of light brings to us a sense of understanding. In short, understanding is the process where an individual can use concepts and ideas to deal with a subject adequately. Of course there is a subjective nature here, but let us leave that in acceptance for now. Understanding is the impetus for much of human action; whether it’s the philosophical strive to understand life, the universe, and everything, a parent trying to understand their child in order to help them, or some guy trying to understand what is required to get that girl’s number. What do we then do once we gained this understanding? Well that is up to the individual and the context, but we use it to create.
1) Gregor Mendel realized in 1865 that traits were passed on in a certain way. We now understand genetics and why I have blue eyes (in relation to my parents).
2) Geodesists realized that due to earth’s bulging at the equator (due to spinning) and gravitational pull on water, sea level is not constant. Now, we have Global Positioning Satellites which know that we’re not 50 feet underwater.
3) Physics! Don’t get me started on physics
Science is nice, but is there more?
1) In 1886, George Seurat realized that a bunch of individual points can combine to create an image; what we now know as Pointillism. (and perhaps inspiration for our pixel based screens)
2) In 2010, Darren Aronofsky realized that humans can strive for perfection to the point where it damages their lives, and created Black Swan.
3) Last year, I realized while juggling that I wasn’t happy in my current major/ life course, so I switched to philosophy.
For each of these situations, people tuned their attention to a particular field. Through observations and contemplations, they discovered an idea which led to vast movements in their fields. It’s common to give the credit to understanding. We’ve created a branch of philosophy for that very idea; what is knowledge and understanding? I think it’s easy to lose the initial moment which sets these ideas in motions though, and rightfully so; they pass by in the blink of an eye. But if fire is knowledge, then it needed a spark, and that spark is realization.
Realization as End:
Hours of research, of practice, of thought, and action; finally, our project had been realized. We have brought our creation into the world and it is now a functioning member of our lives. This is the idea of realization as the end. In music, the term is used when a composer’s work is finished after their death by some other composer. It is completion, closure, and for many, the time they can finally get a good night sleep. But when did you realize it, when was the final moment? Just like that of the beginning, it’s easy to miss this spec of a moment that defines the end.
To use examples from earlier, when did Mendel realize his work on genetics? Perhaps when he came up with the now-famous theory of Dominant and Recessive gene passing. When did Seurat realize his ideas of pointillism? Perhaps when he completed his work of Sunday Afternoon. It’s hard to say precisely, and that is the point. We come to see this as over and done, that the end realization has stopped this process.
So what did you realize through all of this? Well the project of course. Yes, but what did you realize? Well, I have certain skills. And what did you realize?
This is classic self-reflection, and the next point I would like to make
Realization as Continuation:
The Oxford Dictionary doesn’t help me here, so I’ll need to explain in my own terms.
Candle analogy for realization as end?
In either of these cases, we look upon the substance of the journey, i.e. the understanding and manifestation of these ideas. It’s only natural, for that is what directly affects us as humans.