Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Youthful follies? : The Dangers of Extreme Passion and Ideal Romanticism

Half-naked Angel shedding off her second wing

A few days ago on the news there was a young man who was hanging from an overpass threatening to jump into oncoming traffic. I realized that although it had the appearance of a suicide attempt, it was more a desperate call for attention. The young man survived with broken bones.

As for the reason of his act he stated to the paramedics to tell "so-and-so" - the name of a girl - to please come and see him in the hospital. The “deed” had been done for her because she had spurned his love or something along the line. I simply laughed and thought to myself, what an idiot!

But about ten, fifteen years ago I would have reacted otherwise. I probably would have applauded his decision; I might have been inclined to consider such a thing myself. Whenever I fell in love with someone, it would be wholeheartedly, passionately, even, maniacally. There is no one else but the beloved; no one would be able to replace her; not physically being with her equaled death; no, it was even worse, death at least offered some kind of oblivion, a respite from throbbing pain. I used to be a hopeless, incurable romantic back in the day.

So what has happened since then? Have I lost my idealism, have I turned into one of those bitter people who deny love, who equate it with heart frequencies, emotional cell responses, and levels of serotonin in one's brain? Or have I wisened up and become more realistic in my outlook of love and life?

It is a difficult question. Perhaps we simply grow out of it, becoming fatter and more and more disillusioned with life. But far from it in my case! Yes, I have gained weight, but I am happily married and love my wife to pieces.

I have perchance grown more cynical over time, but that is, I think, an automatic reaction; it might be the physical aging process or the accumulation of so-called experience. Either way, while I decry such desperate actions of unrequited love as foolish, deep inside I must confess I feel sympathy and compassion for that young man. It is not the voice of reason talking, but the muted voice of relentless and restless bubbling passion buried deeply in my breast.

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