I was 18, and I knew a guy who seemed interested in me; he was 21 or 22. Back then, he used to text me quite often. During one such conversation, I told him that I was considering studying philosophy after college. He was curious, as was everybody, about why I would choose to study philosophy after economics. I told him that any inquiry into political, social, or economic systems- systems that consisted of human interaction, needed to be approached with much forethought and a certain sort of discipline in this thinking. Philosophy would help me appreciate that, before I jumped into opinion-forming and decision-making. He thought philosophy was redundant. He said that if I spoke to a peasant farmer about philosophy, it wouldn’t make too much sense to him. There is no philosophy to people’s mundane lives; philosophy is a creation of the well-provided, gentility-bred, high-brow-esque mind.
Perhaps. Perhaps I did not understand what he fully meant. However, it seemed pessimistic to me. It seemed like an inability to believe in a magical life, where certain events were bound to happen and some things were meant to be- an approach to life that I readily subscribe to, and use to soothe myself after exposure to harsh realities of life, such as the consequence of rash decisions, and long-winding reactions to impulsive actions. The necessity of delayed gratification. The tendency of karmic energies to be subtle and mysterious in their working. Life is hard, but there is meaning awaiting those who persevere to overcome them. Right?- I asked him.
‘Are you an optimist?’ he asked, in return.
‘Yes, very much!’
‘Ah. Then I was wrong.’ he ventured.
‘Wrong about?’ I wondered.
‘Wrong about how intelligent I thought you were. Intelligent people cannot be optimists.’
This conversation is etched in my mind; partially because my younger self felt invalidated by the possibility of being labelled ‘not intelligent’. But, I’ve been a sucker for philosophy. It has shaped my thought processes, enabled whatever empathy I have, and helped me relate to a world beyond my mind. If the success and popularity of platforms like brainpickings and spirit science are anything to go by, then there clearly is a world out there that is hungry for meaning, a message that says that we are not alone as individuals in our complexity of thought and emotional build-up that leads to irrational anxiety, fear, frustration, and magical thought- the last of which is simply an extreme expression of our meaning-seeking, narrative-biased mind.
If you are wondering about where things went with the guy, the answer is nowhere. We were clearly bad fits, seeing how we lacked respect for each other’s minds, and therefore disallowed ourselves from giving the other the benefit of doubt. But the point of this post is to write a manifesto about dating a girl who reads philosophy, which is an extension of the ‘Date a girl who reads‘ manifesto.
Date a girl who reads philosophy. It means she is, in all probability, mulling over perspectives and the nature of reality itself. HOWEVER, she is given to strong opinions, and plenty of heated debates. She is melancholic and guarded, but feisty and won’t mince her words when you diss her favourite philosopher as not being a ‘real philosopher’ after all. Date a girl who reads philosophy because she is prone to retract, and will give you opportunity to retract. She will let you apologize, and allow it to do the trick. She will accommodate you your magical thoughts, but will pull you back to existential reality when you’re telling yourself that looking up at the clock at exactly 11:11 means something, because she’s been there herself and seen herself through and out of that phase. She’ll contemplate life- its purpose and meaning, and drag you down to the dark recesses of her mind to talk about death and will make you consider the humanness of inhumane tendencies. She will gaze at the stars with you, and her eyes will speak for the beauty she recognizes. Date a girl who reads philosophy, because she is likely to have a rich inner life, with her own personal mysteries and complex demons, fighting for expression and redressal, and therefore, always providing fodder for conversation. Date a girl who reads philosophy, because she will strive to understand, not just your mind, but your soul.
Date a girl who reads philosophy, especially when she only claims to try to do so. 😉