through the looking glass

Try as I might, I would have loved to solve the mystery of why we love like this, of the generation who falls for and out of each other and yet holds onto the concept of forever.  This isn’t a story about love, I dumbly realize after I had gone through a vicious, intensely emotional cycle of insanely pondering over words, trying to interpret the gestures of the slight brush of the hand, the sly passing of notes containing inside jokes you both share, and that thrill you get up your spine as he whispers in your ear.

            To you: I have thought about forever at some point while I was secretly reveling in your presence.  I had the sudden urge to place a hand on your shoulder and say, “I will take care of you.” At some point, I did imagine us being together: your head on my lap as we watched the sunset, the wind blowing as you ran a hand through my own hair, brushing the rebellious cowpers away from my face.  And in that dream, I did reach for you and I told you with all the strength I could summon: we could be everlasting, we could be as eternal as the stars in the sky, countless.  I say these words to you with conviction, with rigor, with firmness.  You take my hand and intertwine your fingers in the spaces of mine and I sigh happily, you and me alone away from–

            “What are you doing?”

            I see you now, ordinary you, with a befuddled look on your face as you motion with your eyes at my hand hovering over your arm.

            “Oh, you know me: I space out.” I say as I quickly remove it.

            You laugh and turn away instead as if nothing ever happened, because nothing really happened.

            This isn’t a story about love.  It’s much more painful than that.

            Infatuation: the sin untold during a moment of confession.  Believe you me, we’ve all been there.  It’s a phase most familiar to a generation as young as ours, the generation still seeking some sort of identity, some sort of desperate clamor for who we really are in society.  We’ve all spoken in metaphors, promised a fantasy lover we’d be together forever, and we would simply become brain-dead if the love is unreturned.  Infatuation, contrary to popular belief, is the inbetween of love and obsession, with it being much, much closer to the latter than the former.  Unlike in love where we fall in love with the other, infatuation calls us to love the other encapsulated in an object, whether it be physical beauty, the “perfect man/woman,” or simply a Galatea, wherein we sculpt a perfect image based on the qualities we like and “cover” the real person with what we’ve formulated.  Infatuation is equivalent to the “high you get from drugs” except that the drug involved is not a pill, but a person.  It’s intense, brief, and gives you a euphoric feel of being in a utopia you built for yourself.  The emotions are equivalent to being bipolar: you either feel complete and utter euphoria or you could sink to the deepest funk of depression depending on the intensity of admiration.  And after the moment is over, you feel some sort of withdrawal or crash and you can’t wait for another moment to give you that high all over again.

            Infatuation is evident when someone opposite or similar to its “victims” (metaphorically) takes his or her hand and says, “hey, we’re both stuck in the crossroads.” Infatuation stems from an intense admiration for someone whom these admirers claim “they can never be like.” And add in the happily ever after recipe, they just cannot believe that these people even knew they existed.  It gives these people an idea that “wow, no one ever got me before.” But it’s more than just understanding who these people are.  Moreover, infatuation is defined as the absurd desire or longing for something deeper, for something richer, for a clearer connection.

            But what comes with desire? Desire is not a light feeling at all: it’s beyond the “butterflies-in-your-stomach,” the cutesy-cutesy language between two people, and the slight shiver you get when your hand and his hand meets.  Desire is a deeper thrill, a ticking bomb, and is the root of obsession, which could eat the entire person alive if deepened further.  Desire is a strong, sexual appetite and could be acted upon on in order to satiate the self because the human is never satisfied.

            And how does one preserve this desire? Desire does not build on obsession very quickly.  He or she has to nurture this desire, to spoil it, to shelter it in a utopia: full of fantasies with the lover, the relationship undefined by the chaos we call metaphors, and the lover himself full and abound with the qualities the one who loves him or her sees fit.  But this utopia eats away at reality as you take into account the desire building up inside of you.  Likened to Pygmalion sculpting a Galatea, you lose the “other” found in reality and you instead build for yourself a new “lover,” formed by the qualities you love most, from the fantasies, the everyday thoughts of him — but how does it all end?

            “What are you doing?” you said.

            “Oh, you know: I space out.” I replied.

            You smile as I smile, and I reach for your arm as yours comes closer, finally making my move.  I reach out to you but my hand passes through you like a ghost and then–clunk–it hits something hard.  Slowly, I see your hair, your eyes, your smile disappearing into a vacuum and I cling to you desperately, wanting to grab hold of the remnants you called you.  I look up and I see a familiar face staring back, the same befuddled expression worn but this time it was someone much closer to home.

The hair with the bangs falling just inches above the eyes, the slightly upturned nose, and the hand with the bright nail polish.  I gasp in sheer horror as the familiarity envelops me: it was me.  I saw my own self reach out to me through a glass barrier in the opposite manner and as my own two hands meet, I realize the gravity of infatuation, the curse of a one-sided affair.  It’s a desire to satisfy the self because we need to be satiated, to be accepted, and to be appreciated.  And when we do collect all those little compliments from the person who supposedly cared for us in that moment, we bound ourselves to that desire.

We bound ourselves to the world we’ve created, to the zone we’ve locked ourselves into.  We were obsessed and it eats us alive. Little did we know that in trying to avoid our own self, we become the definition of unrequited love: that at the end of it, you lose the one you were supposed to love in utter foolishness, stripped down to the core and ultimately, you find no other end in this liaison because it’s narcissistic, it’s selfish.

Infatuation does not involve giving yourself up for the other, it’s giving the other up for yourself.

This isn’t a story about love, I told you.

(Philosophy reflection paper, 2013)

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