Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why do fools fall in Love?

         "Why do fools fall in love?" is what she asked me. It wasn't meant to be a serious question. It was merely one that my patient threw at me this morning while feigning frustration towards me for dragging her out of bed and into my office at 8 am on a saturday morning while asking her all sorts of testing question. She was convinced that many questions I had asked her had no answer and thus decided to challenge me with her own seemingly unanswerable question. And so she asked and moved along while I was left with the question hanging in my mind.

         I had almost forgotten it about 2 hours later when the question popped back again into my mind while I was having a conversation with my other patient for the day: A middle aged intellectually disabled individual who lived the life of an adolescent because of his delayed developmental level. By all measures he appeared to be an older teenager whether it be his facial features, his dressing style, his demeanor, his handwriting and his view of the world. The only thing about him that was a give away of his true age was...well...his actual age. Imagine my surprise then when he told me he was married- and had been for almost half a decade to a woman who was also mentally disabled. The surprise was justified not just because he looked so young, but also because in most of my encounters with mentally disabled patients, it is unusual to find them in a committed romantic relationship. Society makes sure these grown people live the life of pre-pubescent ones by treating them no better than the child-like individuals they appear to be. But thats another topic for another time.

        When asked how he spent time with his "wife" (which is what he referred to his wife as), he told of going to the movies, arcades, parks, concerts etc. with her. This again, was unusual and compelled my, quite surprised, supervisor to ask him "Do you love her? Because it sounds like you do!" To this he replied "we help each other cope." What an interesting concept I thought. He liked her enough to share a living space with her and to spend time with her doing fun things. And that is precisely when it hit me- by Society's measure of a fool, this man was certainly it for having sub-par IQ and the need to be dependent on his family for basic survival and yet...somehow he had found love! He asked me if I was married and when I told him I wasn't lucky enough like him to find a partner for life, I realize I really did mean what I had said. This child-like man had found what so many of us spend out entire lives looking for. He had found a companion he enjoyed spending time with and most importantly, was able to derive support from when life felt hopeless and futile.

        Perhaps then the question my first patient should have asked me earlier in the morning should have been "why do ONLY fools fall in love?" Then I would have had a quick response for her- only fools fall in love because only they have achieved a core understanding of love- its all about lifelong, easy companionship. It isn't about the passionate embraces, the long stemmed roses, walks on the beach at dusk, or the constant utterances of 'I love you.' All these things are certainly important for the relationship but in the end, they are all fluff. Just like a sheep remains a sheep even after it's wool had been sheered, so does/should love.

        Perhaps this is why so many of us fail to find the real deal- we keep chasing the fluff and get star-struck by its charm with making an assessment of what lies underneath it all. Perhaps it takes an innocent, naive view of life to work from the inside out, instead of the outside in. This would certainly explain why children love so easily and form attachments so quickly. Things are more transparent without the contamination of seemingly evolved thoughts and superfluous constraints on our hearts.
       By the time we grow up, we have been infected with romanticized views of love and are burdened by scars of past toxic relationships, consequently failing to give a chance to relationships that are simple and forgiving. Only "fools" follow their heart because they embrace whats most important and obvious- simplicity, friendship, and life long companionship. Ironically then, fools they remain not, instead rendering us the foolish ones too intellectualized to stay satisfied with a good thing. Oh the simple-complex ironies of life!

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