I’ve been reading Alain De Botton’s “Essays in Love” these past few days, and there is nothing better for a 20-something-year-old to meditate on but love and what seems to be the quagmire of relationships. We all seem to be looking for the same thing, and yet in our quest, it tends to manifest in myriad ways of affection, appreciation, respect, repulsion, fear, discomfort, lewdness, vulnerability, and so much more, that it is not uncommon to lose sight, and resort to gracelessness in pursuit. Love simply isn’t one straight forward thing, and that’s what Botton’s book details through its chapters.
Perhaps the easiest people to fall in love with are those about whom we know nothing. Romances are never as pure as those we imagine during long train journeys, as we secretly contemplate a beautiful person who is gazing out of the window- a perfect love story interrupted only when the beloved looks back into the carriage and starts up a dull conversation about the excessive price of the on-board sandwiches with a neighbor or blows her nose aggressively into a handkerchief.
From Chapter 7 titled False Notes
It is true, isn’t it? It is easier to have fonder memories of a person who smiled at you in an endearing way across the room, flirted with you leaving you wide-eyed and just the right amount of butterflies in your stomach, wore their hair a certain way, a certain t-shirt that you thought was attractive for no reason, and the smallest of nice things that they did for you really stood out. All of that certainly warms the heart (for the moment?) more than the spats, in comparison, you have had with the person you are in a ‘relationship’ with. Suddenly you wonder, ‘what’s a relationship, anyway?’- a resignation to monotony? settling for repetitive agony? What were you thinking when you signed up for this? How frustrating it is- the way they make you uncomfortable with their own discomfort, the pain of separation that seems imposed, and the few rendezvous far and in-between, all too sparse and generously peppered with ‘sorting things out’ and ‘dealing with stuff’. God, wasn’t that summer fling just the perfect fairy tale!
There certainly is a peculiar charm to crushes. Pining away with glazed eyes and reveries sprouting out of the futility seems pretty close to perfection in our heads. Perhaps, it is human to be attracted to the abstract. Just certain tiny, random parts in great detail, while the rest of it is more-or-less incomplete. Our mind rushes in to paint lovely patterns where there is only plainness, and pat out the rough edge till they are smooth to the eye. We love the adventure that we imagine to follow the moment when are left hanging. But what’s to happen when the Pandora’s Box is finally cracked open?
We never reach that. We are too caught up in the ‘James Dean daydream look’ in their eyes, and staining our lips red, ’cause it’s such a ‘classic thing that you (they) like’… those little details don’t maketh a relationship, but they sure feed the getaway romance in your head. There’s no speak of your shadows, your tendency to smother, the avoidance, the reluctance, the craving, the madness and frustration- what chance do these painful sensations stand against driving into the sunset, never going out of style?
It’s easier when the whole world is a barbecue party and the key to finding love is getting that cutie to set his eyes on you. Yup, sounds like
a Gurinder Chadha movie life.