Tuesday, March 17

Two Lovers

I love tales of reclusive dreamers who look for chance meetings, thinking it would somehow change the course of their lives. I myself for one, am a dreamer, who often, and deliberately, draw emotions from the things that I watch by, at a safe and concealed distance. I know it reeks of timidity, but it is probably the dreariness of everyday life that makes me alienate myself a tad bit from the happenings of the real, tangible world, and position myself from a vantage point. By allowing myself to watch the world go by before my eyes, there is a kind of simplistic but dispassionate approach to believing I am a part of the great scheme of things. I would like to think that there is spontaneity in feeling happy when I see people happy ; or sad when it is raining or when I see a lonely man retire in a park bench---but it is because they are unaware of the intensity of feeling their actions bring to me. It is probably the only way I can fully see my real self and fathom the deepest of human emotions, and how inexorably I am involved in all of it. It is this kind of personality that I was aware of having-- growing up as a teenager, with no family or established friends, and which never really deserted me--- introspective and emotional, to the point of being dark and moody. But although there is a particular sadness rooted deeply to everything that I feel or do, I am sure that there is, too, an enormous sympathy for everyone, and everything.

In this blog, I have been told by a few, and heck, even by myself, that I have the tendency to be verbose and probably over-sentimental, admitting to a lot of drama-queen moments. But I guess it is a fact that I am trying to exorcise myself out of it, of the emotions that I cannot otherwise articulate in spoken words to other people. I am not the most eloquent talker you would meet, you know, and certainly not half as lucid, but I am capable of being in normal relationships, and of functioning as a rational human being. Even as a wife or mother, I try to be practical and level-headed, although I still always thrive to be more disposed to my roles. But, I find there isn’t enough balance to how I feel. Somehow the other side of me still leans more heavily to the force of depression, in the same way that I am conditioned to read stories with sad endings, or to see the outcome of things with a degree of disappointment---thus, the sometimes brutal honesty with which I express myself. I will for instance, prefer to read my old, deteriorating copy of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, or Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, over my husband's shiny motivational bestsellers---It would be unlikely of me to pander to my half-truths and pretend I am happy.

Of course I admit that I’d sometimes like to be happy. Or maybe always. I believe too, that true happiness emerges from having a healthy spiritual life, and it would be liberating to feel that level of optimism in many things, to be awash with love and joyfulness and the feeling that the world is in absolute agreement with you, so that you can shout it out at the top of your lungs, at the risk of appearing manic---but nevertheless happy, happy, happy!

Yet there is something profound about suffering and misery that keeps me sane and whole. It leaves me with genuine and valid respect for the people who have the power to describe in words the moments of human consciousness when it hits rock bottom, of being in pitch dark, devoid of rationality and hope—a place where others dare not follow, but are curious of. Think Dostoevsky, Woolf, Hemingway, all the dark writers and suicides! I am not too proud of the way I am, because I always seem like I am ready to dive head on to the murky waters of my own self-recriminations and failings. But I am not planning on suicide. Much as people think those who commit suicide are cowards, I see them as very brave ones who only ceased to find rationality in their existence, but were not afraid to stagger through their darkest tunnels and confront their most frightful demons. The irony is they did not live to tell their tales. What they left is a chasm, an ocean of emotional confusion and moral misjudgment which would live on for years and years.

This movie I just saw brought all this introspection into meaning. " TWO LOVERS is a classic romantic drama, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a raw and vulnerable performance as Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eyes of his parents (Isabella Rossellini/Moni Monoshov), Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious beautiful neighbor who is exotic and out-of-place in Leonard’s staid world; and Sandra, the lovely and caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family’s dry-cleaning business. Leonard becomes deeply infatuated by Michelle, who seems poised to fall for him, but is having a self-destructive affair with a married man. At the same time, mounting pressure from his family pushes him towards committing to Sandra. Leonard if forced to make an impossible decision-between the impetuousness of desire, and the comfort of love---or risk falling back into the darkness that nearly killed him..."

In human relationships, there is a proverbial question: Would you rather be with someone you love, or with someone who loves you? Well, we all certainly are inclined to build love castles in the air, empty and far from reality, in the same way that we can suffer needlessly for things and people that cannot understand our motives for doing so. Have you ever found yourself in a situation of feeling what is called unrequited love? Or of the experience of being cared for by another human being, but that it is impossible to draw the same emotions or even to estimate the value of such love to you, so that you can then respond to it fittingly? In the movie, this is how the character of Joaquin Phoenix was torn in between.He was a depressed man to begin with, and I should assume that whatever was going to happen to him shortly after his failed suicide attempt, would hold heavily in his heart, a childlike heart worn down by repressed emotions, and the pain of contradiction he has in his life, mainly because of his broken engagement, and of wanting to please the parents who love him unconditionally. But also it was a heart, so honest in its form, that it exalted even the most undeserving of people. Two situations presented to him —to settle comfortably and continue the family legacy, ensconced in the safe world of familiar faces and a caring girl, or to step out of his home, take charge of his life with a self-destructive woman he is obsessed with, face the uncertain future, but nevertheless experience love’s highs. Can you imagine that he chose both, in succession as well? Is it even possible that life can give you multiple choices, and that you set your whole heart in one, and can then choose the next best answer should the first one fail, say in a series of events not even one hour past of the other? Darn, I don’t think it’s realistic, but well, there’s Hollywood for you.

It is amazing though, how love---between a man and a woman, can alter us, can turn us into something beyond ourselves, ennobling us to be selfless enough and realize that it is better to care for another human being, than be at the receiving end of it.

But also, love is such a terrible human flaw that can destroy us and our whole life, when we lose grip of it and subject ourselves to its torment and destruction. It makes us distrust humanity and ourselves, it makes us escape from the world of reason and compassion, it alienates us from the rest of humanity while we lick our wounds in silence, at least for a while. But in a more permanent sense, it leaves us with an infirmity, a kind of neuroses or pain that we have to endure and live with, in every relationship we get in and out of.

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