Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to save a life

"Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life"

Last Friday, as I was walking through the lobby of my office building to grab a mid-afternoon coffee, I heard some delicious notes of music wafting through the air. Instantly, I glanced in the direction of the grand piano, which sits lonely in the lobby most days, to see the fingers creating this music. In the brief moment between matching the 10 fingers to the face they belonged to, I was overwhelmed by a sudden gust of sadness and my feet dragged to a slow halt in the middle of the hallway. The mere combination of the melody and pianist had me rooted to the spot and I felt the need to sit down so I could reassemble my delinquent feet.
You see, as dramatic as this sounds, the moment just felt laden with emotion, as if the air could be cut with a knife and I'll tell you why- sitting behind the piano playing the music to 'How to save a life' by The Fray, was a man who appeared to be in his mid-twenties, with shortly cropped hair, wearing a camouflaged t-shirt, and a prosthesis on his right leg. This, by itself, is not a rare sight for me considering the fact that I work at a military hospital that prides itself on the extensive care it provides to wounded warriors. What got me initially wasn't just the sum of the parts but a specific part itself; his face. More specifically, it was the sea of emotions on his face as he plunged into the music that was creating tides both high and low. Every emotion on his face spoke the lyrics of the song that I know by heart, so that he was, in essence, wearing his heart on his face.
Granted, my entire experience lasted about 4 minutes as I sat on one of the couches scattered in the lobby and soaked it all in, but the thoughts of this experience lingered on with me for the rest of the day. I kept wondering what this man might have been thinking as he played this music, undisturbed by the steady stream of passerbys in the lobby, unaware of the staring eyes, and even unfraught by his wife and toddler who sat by his side. Had he been unable to save a life? Was this the life of a friend who fought alongside him in a battle or a war, or was it his own life as he chugged through a raging war while watching pieces of himself deteriorate and scatter all around him? My mind wandered more on the latter.
One might argue that his life was still with him, afterall, he had his body, albeit without a right leg, a beautiful wife and darling child. However, what do we know about his emotional life? Did he lose a big chunk of the person he used to be in the war? It is not uncommon for men who live through the horrors of war to experience their life back home in a surreal manner. Honestly, it can't be easy to switch from a high-intensity, unpredictable environment where danger lies at every corner and your life is constantly at risk, to one where people smile at strangers, kids blow bubbles while cackling with laughter and bunnies hop around in meadows of flowers. How do you let your guard down after spending several months with your guard kicked into high gear for basic survival?
Not surprisingly then, a considerable number of active military men have adjustment problems when they return home after their first deployment. The impact of adjustment problem is manifested in several ways, including an alienation from friends, previously enjoyed activities, an alteration in personality and more importantly, tension between loved ones. This is what leads to previously happy go-lucky men/women turning into brooding, sullen ones, or previously gentle and patient soldiers displaying aggressive, impulsive tendencies post-deployment. This is also what leads to loving, caring spouses turning into detached and distant ones. This, alas, is how a person loses his own life while fighting to save that of others. A sad moment for the rest of us then to realize that those who know how to save our lives, sometimes end up losing their own life in the process.

Sadder still, is the experience of relatives and loved ones as they try to help a person rebuild his/her life. How does one fight the bitterness of a horrid experience in someone else’s life without letting it seep through his/her own veins? How many nights would you be willing to stay up if you knew how to save the life in front of you, that of a friend and a loved one? One? Two? A few? A Lifetime? At what point do you go from wanting to save someone’s life to losing your own in the process? Vicious circle…isn’t it? You see now why my feet wouldn’t move from the spot and why the air felt so thick with emotion? It wasn’t just due to the scenario in front of me; it was due to the scenario that possibly lay behind the one in front of me.  Funny how one song and one emotionally expressive face can showcase a lifetime of possible experiences eh? It would be pretty cool to experience people with their choice of a song that envelops all that’s contained in their past. A song that converts a face into a slate of emotional experience. Perhaps then we’ll learn to be a little bit more empathic in our dealings with those around us? Perhaps that’ll give us a chance to save a life…even if the life we save may be our own.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Love or convenience?

I just don't understand people! Why do they do what they do?In the past few days, I've come across two very interesting examples of intriguing behavior. One is of the boy who convinced a girl to marry him after she got cold feet and the other example is of a girl who won't marry the boy she loves but can't seem to love nay boy she could potentially marry. Lets start with the first.
Its not an uncommon story I suppose. Some might even call it romantic because the boy was sensitive, and gentle, and managed to convince the girl to marry him even though she decided against it. However, in my opinion, it is nothing more than the passion of the desperate. He did not love her (he told me so himself). In all fairness, how CAN you love someone you only met for a few days with the sole intent of assessing her for wedding purposes. Well...you can't. The most you can feel is perhaps a sense of satisfaction at not having to look anymore, coupled with the relief of knowing you'll never have to be alone for the rest of your life. While I understand that the sense of relief is immense, it is not love. So here is my issue- why be so intent on marrying a person AFTER he/she has rejected you? If you love the person, things are different- you would want to convince the love of your life to give your relationship another chance but with someone picked out exclusively for the purpose of getting married to, why bother? There are plenty of other marriageable fish in the nuptial sea!
It intrigues me to see this boy try so hard to fight for the affection of someone who was a stranger to him a mere few days ago. Why would you WANT to marry someone you don't love after she has already backed out of it once? I suppose the story could become a glamorized one in a few decades- "Ahh your grandma almost didn't marry me but I convinced her otherwise and here we are, 50 years later..." But what about the story in-between the lines? "Ahh your grandma was wise enough to not want to marry a person she hardly knew but I convinced her in my wildly passionate desperation to get hitched before I turned into a withered, old man." Not to undermine the wild passionate need to get married before a certain age, but why can't the person instead just find someone else to marry? I wonder if people become emotionally vested in a person they have chosen to commit to irregardless of where they love the person or not, and if so, are they aware of it or do they live the rest of their life blissfully unaware that they married/live with the idea of the person instead of the person herself? I suppose eventually my friend and his bride-to-be will fall in love the way traditional couples (Indian or not) do and forget about any glitches from the past but I will always wonder whether their lives are based around love or convenience.
Lack of convenience versus lack of love. I suppose if one must choose to live without one or the other, the decision must be made and then be made peace with. But what happens when people cannot make peace with their decisions? Take, for example, the girl I mentioned at the beginning- the one tied between the man she loves and the type of man she wants to marry. While the man she loves adores her (in her words "worships" the ground she walks on), she doesn't want to pursue a relationship with him because although Indian (like her), he doesn't satisfy the intra-cultural demands of her family. Consequently, she decides to 'un-love' him and date other "suitable men."
The only problem with this other than perpetual heartbreak? She continues to live with this man (share a room) as "just good friends." Yikes!! Talk about being sadistic! In my opinion, not only is she making it impossible for herself to open up to another guy, she is also prolonging the heartache she will experience when this ends since it can only end in one of two ways- she marries another man but always loves the first, or she marries this boy against her family's wishes and feels guilty about it for life. While I threw in a third (more cheerful) option that perhaps she'll marry this boy and her parents will learn to love him too (since he really is a fab guy who adores her), my friend was quick to throw it out the window because it sounded implausible to her. In her defense, she knows her family and herself best so maybe this scenario isn't possible after all. However, I question how well she knows herself based on just one statement she made that rings in my ears everytime I think of them. She told me, in a crowded city bar early in the morning as she watched him leave to get her a drink, "He is the only boy I can dance in front of sober." Hot Damn! Seriously?? You find a guy you can be yourself with after some 20 odd years of (actively) looking and you let that stagnate? And then she complains that none of the other guys she meets are good enough. Well no shit! You are comparing each and every one of them to the one you live, laugh and dance with!
I cringe with frustration and feel sorry for her for being in such a sticky situation but I also wonder if she realizes all that she is subjecting herself to. You can have your cake and eat it too, but only if you bake and eat it with the same guy. You can't bake it with one and eat it with another! Makes me wonder how many of us do the same to ourselves- torture ourselves unnecessarily by putting undue pressure on ourselves based on expected pressure from our families, friends, or society. Maybe its in our culture or our roots to tame ourselves before someone else does? Whether it involves marrying for the heck of marrying, or loving for the heck of not loving the wrong one, we sure subjugate ourselves to some bizarre, seemingly logical, behaviors.
What about you? What are some such seemingly logical decisions you have made that still make you wonder?

I, me and my judgmental self.

This post was written on a notepad as I was waiting in line at the DMV a few days ago. I thought it was worth blogging about so here it is.
I'm constantly surprised by people and their actions. Within the past 30 minutes, I've had my thoughts challenged by 2 couples around me. The first was a pair of two girls waiting ahead of me in line at the DMV. I stared at the hooded backs of these two girls and tried to kill the time by trying to figure out if they were together. One of them was tall, had dreadlocks, and hands that belonged to a man (or atleast the hands I imagine belonging to my man). she also had a nosering that hooped through the middle of her nose (a septum piercing?) which to me is always reminiscent of an ox or a bull. Her companion was an example of extremes with clothes two sizes too tight, heels a bit too high, make-up a bit too much for 10AM on a Monday morning and a voice too low for anyone without a dolphin's hearing prowess to hear. When the formed glanced backward (probably because I had drilled a hole through her hoodie with my steady gaze), I caught a distinctive whiff of strong alcohol on her breath. Instantly, I had her pegged as a raging alcoholic who never washed her hair and drank 7 days a week starting early in the morning and ending early in the morning. I took this a setp further and assumed she didn't have a job because what hard-working person can afford to be intoxicated at 10AM on a monday morning? My thoughts were partly confirmed when I heard her tell her companion that she was nauseas and needed to go to the bathroom. I took a step back from her to avoid being vomited on and watched her stagger towards the bathroom. When her turn to be called to the counter came, the lone companion asked me if I would take their turn so she could wait for her bathroom bound companion. I gladly accepted and thanked her friend silently for being drunk.
A few minutes later as I was waiting in line once again after grabbing the right forms, I saw the previously-spotted dreadlocked doll come and stand next to me in line (grabbing the right forms isn't that easy...take note snooty lady at the MVA counter). Anyways, concerned that the line looked haphazardly formed, I made a point of asserting my place at the front of the line by shuffling my forms and my feet with impatience. Our short line was soon added to by two other individuals- a well dressed woman and a short balding man. However, my only focus was on not letting the drunky cut in front of me. Imagine my surprise then, when madam-well-dressed smiled at me one instant and then totally cut in front of me when the counter was available! When I finally managed to shut my jaw, I looked around and saw my plastered-princess do the same. Glad to see she was on my side of received injustice, I warmed up to her slightly, but kept my other side suspicious of her. However, this must have taken a lot of concentration because the next minute the counter opened up, bald-short hopped in front with his form-filled,outstretched arms. This time, utterly baffled and paranoid that I had somehow turned invisible, I made eye contact with my companion and passed a sarcastic comment about rude people who cut in line. Much to my surprise (and relief) my princess spoke in a soft, steady voice and said to me "Don't worry, I won't cut in line in front of you." At that point, I could have hugged her despite the dreadlocks and alcohol breath but the counter opened up again and I leaped in place, feeling like a judgmental hater. So much for not judging tattered stinky books by their cover.
A few minutes later, I was sitting and waiting for my number to be called and making up stories in my head to explain the people all around me. After hearing her number being called, I saw a heavyset, middle-aged, African American woman trudging her way to the counter while lugging a huge overcoat. As she approached the counter, she announced "Goodmorning sir!" in a heavily accented Nigerian accent. Instantly, her story formed in my head- an over-worked, under-appreciated, recent immigrant to the US, she was at the DMV on her break from work at the hospital as a nurse because her chauvinistic, good-for-nothing Nigerian husband refused to do anything other than the 3 basics- eating, drinking and womanizing. Why he was probably still in bed, wearing a wife-beater and a stripped loincloth! Yes, I know this is a ridiculously racist, stereotypical judgment but this seems to be my general impression from my experience with outspoken Nigerian women (and remember, this was all one way of idling away my time by creating fantasy-based stories about people in my head).
Well anywhoo, so imagine my surprise when I saw a short man, smartly dressed in a crisp, navy suit and shining shoes appear next to the woman (he exited from the bathroom). He instantly took the heavy overcoat from her and helped her sit on the only chair available at the counter. Once content that his wife was comfortable on her plastic chair designed to comfortable seat paper cutouts, he stood beside her with his hands lovingly on her shoulder- a gesture so intimate, yet so seemingly ordinary for them that neither one seemed to acknowledge it. A few minutes later, he helped her get up, helped her put on her coat and walked away while holding hands while I was left erasing my mind of previous stories I had heard of treacherous Nigerian husbands and their tormented wives. Conveniently, my number was called soon after and I was spared the agony of chastising myself for having such a negative view of people and their lives for too long. *phew!*

The moonlight on my bed keeps me awake

Inspired by the first line of Carolyn Kizer's poem "Night Sounds"

The moonlight on my bed keeps me awake.
It bounces all around my room, 
Touching all that belongs to me
And hopping around from pillar to pillar, 
FInally settling by my side, 
Looks me right into the eye and demands.
Demands to know my whole life story, 
Demands to know the worth of everyone in my life, 
Demands to know everything...the everything that I hide behind.

He does this almost every night-
Hopping, bouncing and demanding to know.
But the truth is, he knows it all.
There is nothing left to say.
For every night he comes to me, this becomes his bedtime story. 
He knows it from the bottom of his heart but still
demands- demands to be told every night. 

So I tell him, I start again
Right from where I always do.
Fill him in with all he knows
Till I come to what always remins untold.
This is the moment that I need...I need to tell him all that I feel.
I need to tell him how much I hate him.
I hate him for keeping me awake in the night.
I hate him for touching all that is mine.
I hate him for lying right by my side.
I hate him for looking me right in the eye. 

But before I begin he starts to leave-
The sun is here and he needs to flee.
It is just the way it always is-
He leaves before I can reach the pith.

He does not hear what he needs to hear the most.

I know that this will happen again
just the way it always does-
The moonlight on my bed will keep me awake, 
It will bounce all around my room, 
Touch all that belongs to me
And hopping around from pillar to pillar
Will finally settle by my side
and demand to know all that I hide behind. 

Maybe tonight I will tell him all-
All that remins unsaid
All that he refuses to hear.
Maybe then the bouncing will stop, 
Maybe then the hopping will cease, 
Maybe then he will let me sleep, 
Maybe then...maybe then...

Love- a comfort emotion

“But there’s a danger in loving somebody too much
And it’s sad when you know it’s your heart you can’t trust,
There’s a reason why people don’t stay where they are
baby sometimes love just aint enough. “
-Patty Smyth

The heart wrenching lyrics of the above song can strike a chord in even the most stone cold heart. Most of us have been in a situation where we felt like our heart just walked out on us, leaving behind an empty abysmal chasm which churns the name of an ex-beloved at a pace fast enough to send the rest of our body in a dizzy state. Most of us have found our self in a state of complete euphoria where roses bloom better, grass looks greener, clouds in the skies look poofier, and the world just seems like one big green and blue smiley face. Most of us have also been in a situation where we crave the look of a beloved every second, the look that makes our knees wobbly and our hearts skittish. Most of us…have been in love.

Love. Love is a many splendored things. Love can be so many things and yet be nothing… for what really is love? Does it really exist in a romantic form? No one knows for sure what love really is and yet most people spend the greater part of their lives persistently chasing this elusive yet desirable beast. Talk of love brings up two very interesting questions: How do we chase something when we do not know what it is, and how do we chase after it? Do we chase everything that looks/feels/smells like love, or do we just wait in a corner and hope the first thing that walks around will carry our personalized version of love? In order to catch a ball one must be able to visualize it and if a person cannot visualize a ball, does it really exist? Similarly, if we do not know what love, especially romantic love is, does it really exist? I am quite convinced of the former condition – romantic love does not exist. It is instead, a surreal figment of our imagination that we choose to hold onto for comfort.

Le Doux, a practicing neurologist popularized in recent times due to his intensive research on emotions, recently authored a bestselling book. This book, titled The Emotional Brain, is concerned with presenting intensive research on human and animal emotions. In this book, Le Doux explains that the best way to study human emotions is to study them in isolation. This isolation of emotions leads to four main emotions which include fear, disgust, happiness and sadness/depression. Any other emotions presented by humans or animals are derived from one of these four main emotions.

This research gives new meaning to a song by Tina Turner which proclaims, quite unabashed “What’s love got to do with it, what’s love but a second hand emotion?" Love truly is a second hand emotion, if even that. It could probably be labeled a third, or a fourth emotion due to the fact that it stems from the culmination of other emotions. It has no real self-sustaining identity. Le Doux’s research also provides evidence towards the fact that all four of the primary emotions listed above are manifested in the form of a physical action or a bodily response. When a person is happy, a smile is expected. Tears or brooding are expected from a sad individual. Fear initiates the ‘fight of flight’ response and disgust invokes a desire to avoid the stimuli. Love however has no obvious bodily symptoms. A person in love could be happy, sad, disgusted or fearful and the symptoms of this so-called love are composed of the tell-tale signs of these particular emotions. Love’s entity is comprised wholly of a blend of various emotions. Not surprisingly then, its physical manifestation is also seen in terms of the expression of the primary emotions involved. The above analysis shows that love, at least as we think of it, does not exist in scientific vocabulary and cannot be explained by science.

If love does not have a real meaning then why do we even use the word? Probing the concept of nominalism, a theory of medieval philosophy which explains that general or abstract words do not stand for objectively existing entities and that universals are no more than names assigned to them, helps shed some light on the issue. In simple words, nominalism is a word used to explain abstract nouns that just have a name but no real meaning. An example of nominalism would be the act of idol worship. When individuals worship idols, they put forth so much faith and devotion of energy into the idol that it ceases to be an artifact made of metal/china but metamorphoses into being the actual deity/God it is being used to represent. Love too is a word that has come to have a nominalistic existence. It is possible that centuries ago, love was used as a word used to explain the feelings of exhilaration, happiness, satisfaction, sorrow, despair and so on which arise when an individual is romantically involved with another. It was used as a stand-in word for the real emotions described above. However, with the passage of time, it has evolved in our minds to have a connotation it was never really meant to have-that of being a verb.

Hence, if love is just a word used to signify some prior well established emotions or the act of performing certain actions then that would mean that love’s being depends on our perceptions of the other emotions. Is a word that conveys no meaning of its own, but instead merely manifests the meaning of another in its being, really a word then? An apple is an apple because it brings with it the image of a red fruit which seeds in it, the word happiness brings with it memory of what happiness feels like, while walk brings with it the notion of performing an act of movement. Love does none of these things; it does not signify a visual, physical image, does not bring with it memory of what love feels like nor does it bring with it the act of loving. Some might claim that love does indeed bring memories of being in love and the act of loving, but these people fail to realize that when they think of loving someone, they are just reminded of caring and desire for that person, which implies, once again, that love really is nothing but simply a way of describing other words.

The meaning of love has escaped the act of being carved into stone. It is hard to determine one generic definition of love and apply it to the lives of every individual who walks the planet. Any other word in the English language, or any other language for that matter, has a concrete definition. One can argue that the same word can have different meanings when used in different contexts as is the case of words like gay, blue, beat etc. Love too, is one of those words that can imply different associations when used in different contexts. For example a person may love God, love his/her friends, love chocolate cake, love his/her parents and love a beloved. Obviously, love for chocolate cake does not compare to love for God nor does love for a beloved compare to love for friends. However, each usage of the word love implies one of two definite emotions- those of caring and of desire. Love does exist in the form of a verb, as in “I Love you��? which is actually quite a convenient way of telling someone that I care for him and want to be with him. However, love as a noun does not exist. To love is an act but love does not imply a person, place, name or thing. Thus, love as an entity has no existence.

Further proof of the elusive nature of love comes from the census of the National Center of Health Statistics (NCHS) which reports that in the 1990’s for every two marriages that took place, one divorce did too. If love is the amazing magical feeling that most people chase after, then why does it fizzle away? This fizzling out effect of love occurs due to the fact that we are disillusioned about love. This disillusion occurs in part due to our social conditioning of love. Everything that we hear about love comes from external sources such as family, friends who all have a different meaning of love. We put so much faith in the abilities of love that when we are in a romantic relationship, we hinder its growth by expecting too much form it. These exaggerated expectations lead to a sense of despair which follows from not achieving what we thought we could achieve and consequently, the foundation of the relationship sinks under the weight of gloom.

The above discussion sheds some light on the elusive identity of love. However, if love really does not exist then why do we spend so much energy and passion on it? This is because there exists, in each and every one of us, a natural human tendency to desire objects/meanings/feelings that are unbeknownst to us. When we eat something, we want to know what we are eating, before we read a book, we want to know what it is about. When someone tells us about a delicious chocolate cake, we want a slice to find out for ourselves whether it truly is good or not. When someone tells us about a wonderful new movie that is out, we flock to the theaters to form our own opinions. Love too is one of those unknown yet familiar words that each one of us has definitely come across. It is a part of our society and is presented to us in various mannerisms by those around us. We are born into a world which is obsessed with the pursuit of love and it not shy to pass that passion onto us from the moment we are born.

Little girls are fed a rich diet of fairy tales in which the princess is fair, beautiful (and in most cases, blonde) and waits by the castle all day for her wonderful prince charming. This prince is expected to come galloping on a shining steed and whisk her away to his wonderful world where they will live happily in love ever after. Little boys are fed a similar, gender equivalent diet, of fairy tales where the prince is misguided about the direction of his life until he views the face of a princess so beautiful that the heavens part and the angels sing and he stays mesmerized by her beauty. As soon as this amazing woman comes into his life, everything magically falls right into place and the prince’s crisis are solved and they live happily in love ever after. Love is something we have been told is amazing and life changing. Not to be outdone, we embark on our own personal journey to find out what this love thing really is. Life becomes a journey and the conquest of love becomes its most desired souvenir.

The above discussion might lead to feelings of anxiety or dread in the hearts of most of us. It is hard for us to convince ourselves that love does not exist in the way that we have always thought it did because…simply put, we want love to exist. Much like the myth of the abominable snowman, we want to believe there is a ‘yeti’ of emotions that breathes amongst us and feeds off our joys and sorrows. Love is a concept that most of us have relished since childhood and we fear the risk of losing this emotion because it is comforting to us. We want to believe that there exists an emotion out there which is more powerful and awe-inspiring than any we have ever come across. It is like a comfort emotion and can be likened to a comfort item most of us probably remember from childhood. This item could range from being a flannel blanket with satin trimmings to being the ratty old Mr. Wiggles or Mr. Bear with a missing eye and a loose limb that eventually needs to be tucked away in a box with all our other childhood memories. Love has been our comfort emotion for too long and we risk the chance of unconsciously sabotaging our potential romantic relationships by unsuccessfully trying to find glimpses of it in them. The sooner we accept the lack of existence of love, the sooner we can pave the way for relationships that are sustained by trust, faith and compatibility and not by the idea of a word which has no real identity in itself. 

Eyes that last I saw in Tears

My version of the famous poem "Eyes that last I saw in tears" by Thomas Stearns Eliot

Eyes that last I saw in tears
are now in joy- smiling bright.
Those very eyes that has lost their gleam,
now seem so full of light.

I think I should be happy-
for, those eyes have learnt to live again.
But then, I cannot feel the happiness
All I feel is an excruciating pain.

A flash of emotions crosses my face.
Why can't I be happy for those eyes?
They were sad when I left.
...Is my absence where their happiness lies?

Making the right wrong decision

Some of us do it in broad daylight, some of us do it sneakily, some of us do it when we are lonely while some of us do it out of need for excitement. We are all guilty of it, the only difference is that while some of us openly admit to it, others don’t. No, I am not talking about singing in front of the mirror, grabbing a hairbrush and pretending to be Brittany/ Aerosmith/someone else along those lines (oh don’t EVEN pretend that YOU don’t do it!)… I am talking about falling for the wrong person.
Yes, I said it. The wrong person. I personally have had a long history of falling for men who I could clearly see were not the right ones for me. If there was ever an AA meeting of sorts for people who fell for the wrong people, my intro would sound something like

“Hi, My name is Jane Doe and I am a falla-wronga-holic”

I don’t know why I do it. I don’t even consciously make the decision and I would never have known I did it unless I hadn’t retraced the bread-crumbs to follow the trail of my romantic life. However, now that I know it, there is no avoiding it. When I find myself attracted to a guy, all it takes is a few intense moments of introspecting to find out why the person is not right for me. If there was ever a distinction between the mind and heart, it was never more defined than this time. The entire scenario goes something like this:

Jane Doe sees guy.
Jane Doe falls in love.
Jane Doe’s Heart “ I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love”
(Heart gazes off into space while smelling daisies)
Jane Doe’s mind “ No no no no..not again!....aaaaarghhhh!”
(Mind exits running with arms flailing in air)

Now, I know that I am not the only one who has fallen for someone who isn’t right for me. As a matter of fact, most of us make the decision thinking it is the right decision. However, armed with the knowledge that the person isn’t the right person for us, the decision we make can aptly be called the right wrong decision. We find ourselves convincing out own selves that we can get through this. We remind ourselves of sayings like “Love can cross all barriers”, “Love is blind” and the ever so famous “ Love is all you need”. We even try to rationalize it…only the rationalizing is twisted. I have listed a few examples for your convenience:

A neat freak thinking “ I can make it work with a guy/gal who believes that cleanliness is next to Satan-ness”
A shy timid homely person thinking “ I can make it work with someone who only takes a break from partying/drinking when the need to pee is greater”
A passionate proponent of gay rights thinking he/she can have a healthy fruitful relationship with a homophobe.

Ok fine so the above scenarios might seem a bit extreme but I know you guys get the point. In my cultural perspectives on psychology class that I took last semester, we spend weeks and weeks talking about the differences between people that arise in terms of world view, ethnocentrism, values, beliefs, languages, thought patterns etc and yet I find myself struggling with convincing myself when the object of my affections is obviously not the right one for me. And then, to confuse me even further is the line of thinking molded along the idea that when two people love each other, compromises need to be made. How much can a person compromise without losing a chunk of his/her own individuality/personality? Perhaps some of us fall for the wrong person because subconsciously we are relieved at the prospect of not having to worry about long term commitments with someone. If this is true then I can add onto my AA introduction and make it sound like this

“Hi, My name is Jane Doe and I am a falla-wronga-holic because I am too uncertain of myself to desire a long-term relationship and too insecure to not have a relationship at all.”

Some others perhaps fall for the wrong person because we like the excitement of the unknown and seek others who are different from us to fill the void we feel in our own lives. Another explanation could simply be that finding faults in our potential lovers is just a way to avoid any serious inquiry into establishing the relationship. Or perhaps there is some other explanation for this…the presence of which I do believe is quite plausible. Thus, I am going to turn the question over to you, the reader. Why is it that we find our affections finding solace in the thoughts of someone who we clearly know is not the right match for us? If you have experienced this yourself then feel free to use examples. However, you don’t HAVE to give us examples. Quizás one of you has an entire thesis on this topic. Quizás you have a theory that needs to be shown the light of day. quizás you would just like to leave a comment on my apparent lack of anything constructive to do except write notes on Facebook. Quizás some of you are wondering what the heck quizás means. Whatever it is, gimme your two cents worth.

About the bad ole good ole days

Why are the good ole days always good? Why can’t they be the bad ole days? And if we do indeed have bad ole days then why do people always think only about the good ole days and *sigh*?

I have a couple of friends who always insist on reminiscing about the days past. Now I don’t have a problem taking a walk down memory lane every once in a while but it seems like these people are stuck permanently in memory lane...as a matter of fact, they LIVE on memory lane! All of this would make sense if their past had been a bouquet of posies and that was ALL they wanted to talk about. However, this is hardly ever the case because talking about the good ole times of the good ole days always leads to talk about the bad ole times of the good ole days. This makes me wonder….do we subconsciously enjoy scratching up old wounds that are just about to heal? Does our mind get some sort of twisted pleasure by indulging itself with memories of the past that make us sad? Is wallowing in the miseries of our past a type of sinful pleasure we like indulging in?

I’ll be honest and accept that there have been times when I have dug deep into my bag of memories and dug out those that have wrecked me the most. Sometimes I do this to keep myself from making the same stupid mistakes, at times I do it just to see if they still throb, some of the times I do it to compare them to a current hurtful memory and dramatically enough, sometimes I do it just to get a good cry. However, I don’t think I would have the will to get out of bed every day if I thought about these memories every breathing second of my life and I am amazed by people who do. Again, it makes me wonder, why are these people so stuck in their past that they are actually letting bygones affect their present and future? I wonder if these people are sipping a potion of bitterness everyday just so the bitterness can linger on in their mouths and remind them of how things can be. However, I wonder if they realize that in doing so they are letting this poison-like bitterness seep through the nooks and crannies of their body, much like a disease making its way slowly through a patient’s body. Do these people realize how contagious their condition is?

A friend of mine told me that he has learnt that the best way to live life is to not trust anyone completely. That was all he said and that was how he ended the sentence. Now…he didn’t say this out loud but I know that in his head, that sentence ended with “…because when you trust people completely, you endow them with the ability to hurt you emotionally.” I know this particular friend quite well and I know where this bitterness in him is coming from but I wonder how many of us walk through our every day with that sort of ideology in mind. How many of us are not giving every new individual in our life 100% trust for fear of being hurt? Perhaps these individuals don’t realize that they are stuck in the good ole days because their lack of ability to trust people now has alienated them from happiness. I understand that being cautious can be a good thing around certain individuals but how cautious is too cautious?

Speaking of being cautious reminds me of little children. I used to work with kids almost everyday and was constantly amazed by how kids fear so little and how easily they love another. For my summer camps, I usually met a new classroom of kids for three hours a day, five times a week and then said goodbye. During these 15 hours, I got to peek into their lives and observe them being themselves. These kids are brave little warriors- they run up the monkey bars while barely holding them, they jump off swings when swings reach their highest point, they pick up scary looking bugs, worms, objects just to play with them and they showed me so much love in the few hours I spend with them. Most of these kids knew that they would never see me after a week’s time, yet they shared all sorts of juicy secrets/stories with me, hugged me and told me how I was their favorite teacher ever. So brave and yet so soft. How many of us can look back and see ourselves fit the muddy little shoes of these kids? Most of us can…but as we grow older, we start learning that running up monkey bars without holding them tightly can result in broken bones, we learn that jumping off swings going high can result in bloody knees/palms, we learn that playing with bugs/worms can lead to a diseased breakout and most importantly we learn that loving people unconditionally can lead to broken hearts. So tough and yet so timid huh?

So as it turns out, we associate the good ole days of playgrounds and new friends with bruises bodies and hearts. This is how we evolve into grown individuals who are too bitter to take risks and forage after new relationships. Tough lessons huh? I think not! We only learn what we want to learn. Well, I think it is about time we learn to stop hiding behind the past and learn to start exploring the present. Let us not talk about the good ole times only to talk about the bad ole times. Let us also not talk about the good ole times just to make the current times feel less crummy. If loving with an open heart leads to pain then learn to handle the pain...not avoid it. I would rather learn to be the person who trusts people 100% instead of being the person who starts with 0% of trust. Want to know why? Its because the former scenario keeps me happy from the beginning of the relationship and provides me with good new days whereas the others just seem reminiscent of the bitter lessons of bad ole days.
So there you have it - Another random ramble of my restless mind. If you have taken the time to get this far then leave me a comment. I like reading what other people have to say, regardless of whether they agree with my viewpoint or not. Thanks for indulging me :)

A different type of romance

*Blogger's note: This is a post written on another site in 2007. I thought it was worth saving and carrying forth to this new blog of mine*

It’s a classic story:

Boy meets girl,
boy falls in love with girl,
boy pursues girl until girl falls in love with boy
boy treats girl like crap
Girl still loves boy.

The days of happily ever after are long gone…or maybe they just never existed. Maybe the “happily every after” part ended all fairy tales to save the reader the anguish of finding out what happens to relationships when the romance is gone, or when someone cheats, or treats the other like scum of the earth or when people stay in their relationships for convenience rather than love. Maybe the author of these tales wanted to save our innocent notions of love and romance, or maybe they just wanted to spare us the agony of realizing another kind of tale of romance…one that can truly be described as being sadistic and masochist. Yes, you read it right…S&M relationships. These are relationships where the two people involved seem to find some sort of twisted pleasure in either hurting themselves or in hurting the person they love…not physically but emotionally.

It seems like there are a lot of these going around these days. Or maybe it’s not a new phenomena at all for after all, the burning Scarlet Letter on Hester Prynne’s chest was proof of a woman’s decision to emotionally hurt herself in the name of love by not revealing her lover’s name. Some would say that she loved him so much that she would much rather live the rest of her life as an outcast than expose him to the world. However, I could argue that by continually protecting his name in exchange for her own public humiliation, she perhaps felt triumphant, elated even, for having passed a test of love…and in doing so, gave him the power over her life. In other words, she was the masochist and he was the sadist.

The incidence of such relationships seems to be growing in recent times. However, I do not understand the attraction of these relationships. Why do girls insist on being in relationships where they have to play these emotional mind games? Do these girls enjoy being hurt in the name of love? How many times must a girl suffer a blow to her self-respect before she finally realizes that it is not worth it? I’ve seen gorgeous, smart, intelligent girls who foolishly pass the strings of their lives into the hands of men who take those very strings and polish them into nooses around their necks; dangling them mercilessly at their every whim and fancy. I’ve seen sensitive, caring, nice guys turn into complete monsters when given such complete power of their girlfriend’s lives. These guys grow to enjoy the power they can wield on these girls and grow more sadistic as the relationship proceeds.

Its perfectly sad and disgusting at the same time. At a time when women are competing foot-to-foot with men in every aspect of society, these women seem to be holding us from ever fully reaching shoulder-to-shoulder because of their need to belong. These women feel that having a man completes them and they are willing to stand not-so-tall to make it happen. These women need constant reassurance of how beautiful, wonderful and amazing they are and they are willing to pay the price by allowing these men to emotionally toy around with them. If not then why are there women still in love with men who cheat on them? Or with men who would rather blow them off for a night with the guyz? Or with men who show so much love behind closed doors but none when the doors open and the world is watching?

Women complain that all men are jerks but the truth is that they make them that way. Women let men get away with it. If every woman who was/is in a relationship with a man who was a jerk, walked out on that relationship then wouldn’t these men feel compelled to change their ways? If women didn’t give these men the power to hurt them in the name of love then these men would soon loose their ability to hurt. Perhaps then women will realize that they do not need to be masochist in order to keep a man and perhaps then men will realize that being sadistic is not the way to hold onto their love. Once both sexes realize that emotional pain and suffering do not HAVE to be a part of a romantic relationship, the true path to “happily ever after” might surface.

What do you think?
ps: this note is NOT about guyz being jerks. if your comment has ANYTHING to do with proving that I am bashing guyz then ima gonna hafta come and bash u in person...*snarl*