One thing I could never relate to was the experience of shedding tears of joy. Not the tears that are spontaneously released at the end of a harrowing experience, but the tears that fall out of joy at the sound of good news or because of an unexpected blessing unrelated to a difficulty. The release of tears as an expression of emotion has always fascinated me. Despite my general disposition of feeling things very deeply, and having a keen sense of the emotional space that others may be in, that volume of reference material, so to speak, does not appear to have informed my emotional frame of reference to allow me the ability to spontaneously shed tears of joy.
Is it a deficiency or is it simply my nature? That has never been an easy question to answer because answering requires a definition of what normal is. For the most part, I don’t think that there is an emotional normal. Perhaps a relatable frame of reference is all that we have to work with, but we don’t engage with others around frames of reference. We engage on emotion.
Perhaps I am jaded. Who am I kidding? Perhaps has nothing to do with it. Jaded I am, but pessimistic I am not. So I still expect good outcomes, but I’m also painfully aware of the bad outcomes just waiting to occur.
I’m suddenly reminded of the scene from Hancock with Will Smith and Charlize Theron where they grow closer to each other and lose their immortality. Finding such comfort in each other weakened them while remaining apart strengthened them. That same threat appears to haunt the fearful romantics. The ones that cherish the thought of a perfect companionship but find every reason to believe that they are not worthy of it. The threat of being disemboweled should such perfection be ripped away causes many to recede and play it safe instead.
I can relate to such bitter sweet moments. Moments when you look into someone’s eyes and see the comforting joy that they feel, only to see it brushed away by their fears of losing such joy if it were to be embraced. Moments when the expectations that society places on us to be perceived a certain way conflicts with what we want for ourselves. Be true to ourselves and risk isolation, or deny ourselves and enjoy an uneasy inclusion? The bitterness of such choices often snuff out the sweetness of what it offered, but we are inclined to believe in probabilities before we believe in hope.
The bitter sweet moments are many. They’re reflected in moments when you connect with another soul but realise that you’re only a decade or more too late. Or the time that you suddenly grasped the charm of a given act, but the one who charmed you in that way left a long time ago out of frustration or rejection because you may have been distracted. Or the moment when two damaged souls connect, but pull away because neither sees the damage of the other, but only the damage within themselves and think the other to be deserving of better.
It is safer to recede and take the path of mediocrity, even in love, because mediocrity offers a real chance of tasting happiness or comfort, or even success. It’s the acceptance of half a loaf of bread in case you end up with none. But it also limits the experience of life to half measures and half truths. The other half that is left unfulfilled demands distractions and superficial indulgences to complete you, but such indulgences only distract you from the void but never fills it.
It’s a sure way to fade away while waiting for that perfect moment to arrive. Equally so, embracing the hope of fulfilment could kill you a thousand times before the kindred one comes along, if ever. Living with such hope is foolhardy to some, but non-negotiable for others. Bitter sweet. No guarantees. That’s life.
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