The trash belongs in the bins, not in the kitchen.
You would think that after publishing a book about love I would know something about it. You would think someone who has been in love would know what they are taking about. Well, I don’t. And if you ask me, I don’t think anyone does.
What is love? There are probably as many answers as people are in this world. Live constantly proves it’s not what we see in the movies. Or well, maybe, but only sometimes, and only to a certain extent. Love is complicated, love is twisted, it’s intense and sometimes difficult to understand. But it has to be worth it. If it’s not worth it, I would argue it is not love. Most of all, love is authentic.
Love is a commitment to yourself, a commitment to bend your own habits and routines, to make your own person adapt to an alien environment, without losing sight of who you are. Love is someone else’s commitment to you. It is an in-between ground that has to be carefully crafted and created through openness and communication. It’s finding a part of you growing somewhere else, it is having a part of someone else grow inside of you. An interchange, I would call it.
In a society driven by the coldness of immediacy, we have lost the patience of giving anything more than five minutes of our time. We have been spoilt rotten by the feeling of wanting something right now, and having it the minute we want it. But for how long do we keep things? Sometimes not long enough. We lose patience on the way because things lose immediacy way too quickly, and we easily get bored. Just think of the number of things you once bought but shortly after forgot about, and actually never used again or barely every remember.
I have started a new semester in uni and I need a diary to keep track of my schedule for the week. I google “diary”. Amazon is my first option. Amazon asks me to log in. I pay. There’s a diary right in my doorstep the next day. As easy and as fast as something can be. Next week I might end up writing my schedule in a random notebook, and the diary I so desperately needed is now somehow useless. Perhaps because I didn’t put any effort in the purchase, it has made no impact in me, and so I forgot about it.
The immediacy of obtaining things as fast as I obtained my amazon diary has made our relationships more liquid than ever. Let me explain myself. Liquid because they are malleable, temporary. Because we comprehend relationships as purchases. We have grown up in a world that moves at such a speed that barely anyone can keep up with it. We encounter someone else in a specific situation but often we don’t extrapolate that connection to any other areas of our life. We don’t put effort into it. It’s just convenient. And it ends there. You move on, they move on. Just like my diary.
This doesn’t mean you will be literally buying someone’s company, or you are using them exclusively because it is convenient to you. Not at all. It means that we are so used to purchasing things and move on from them that we barely invest the time and the energy in using something to its fullest. We have a constant feeling of missing out, of expecting that the best is yet to come. A constant feeling of moving, of not staying. And an overwhelming fear of being forgotten, of being dispensable.
As human beings, we need personal connections, we need human contact. But personal relationships will never be good enough if we’re always waiting for a better version to come. You can always buy a new phone; you can buy a new pair of jeans. It might be more useful than the phone you had before, or they might be easier to style than the pair of jeans you used to have. But people are not purchases. It might sound very stupid and very obvious. But it’s something we tend to forget.
If you don’t invest your time in someone, that someone will not hurt you. You dive in just a little bit, so you don’t expose yourself. And perhaps it’s for the best, because there’s plenty of fish in the sea, because the best is yet to come. Well, sometimes you already have the best. New isn’t always better. It is often the things that involve the biggest effort that reward us with the biggest of joys.
To me, that is where the magic of love lies. In constructing a relationship that goes beyond giving someone the information you are willing to give. To dive right in. To learn how to craft an in-between space in which your own individuality thrives because you’ve joined forces with someone else. A space in which you allow yourself to be vulnerable. In which you allow to be weak, you allow yourself to be human.
A relationship in which someone is so engraved within your system you can’t picture life without. This doesn’t mean you depend on them, or perhaps to a certain extent you do. What I mean is, things can always go wrong, but the people you build strong relationships with can’t be easily replaces. Evidently you could live without them, nobody is that indispensable. But a house without pillars will collapse, and we need to let the weight of our emotions to rest on the pillars of our lives. We need to share our worries and our fears as well as our happiness and our achievements.
Now let me clarify, this is not a conservative “things used to be better before” kind of argument. Very far from it. I would not like to live the kind of dependency our grandmother’s generation had to go through. What I am trying to say is that it is important to create solid relationships in order to improve and to grow as an individual. Think of an Ivy, it needs a tree or a wall to climb in order to grow. It’s the same with us humans. It is scary as it is rewarding to invest time and energy in building solid relationships. Far away from expectations, where we can stop pretending and just be ourselves. Where we can fail, where we make mistakes, where we stop the hectic speed of our lives for just a second to find the peace hidden inside of our own selves.
And that, I believe, is obtained through compromise. We have lost the meaning of what compromise means. We are so used to obtaining what we want when we want it that putting effort into things sounds unappealing. Well… I have to say the most rewarding things in life are the ones you put the most effort into. But the fast pace ends up being exhausting. Sometimes, we all need a break.
Developing meaningful relationships requires effort, time and vulnerability. We have grown up in a world that punishes vulnerability, almost as it was a flaw. I believe knowing one’s own vulnerability and one’s feelings is the best possible way of developing self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And the best possible way of building solid relationships. Knowing there’s a shoulder in which you can cry when things go wrong, because things go wrong very often, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Think of it this way: we bin the trash instead of keeping at home. But… if you don’t know where the trash is, how can you get rid of it? Knowing and exposing your own weaknesses and your own darkness gives you the power of knowing how to get rid of it, gives you the power to control it. It gives you the power of knowing yourself so deeply, that there is not a single corner inside your soul, no matter how dark, that you haven’t visited at least once.
And sometimes there is too many bin-bags for you to do it alone. Sometimes you need someone to bin the trash with you. When things get hard, we all need a little help, we all need to be frustrated and we all need to stop. Now, stopping by yourself is difficult, you might feel like you can’t. And that is where I believe the power of love lies. Any love. In the liberation that sharing your darkness with someone provides. In finding a shoulder to cry in, so you don’t need to keep any trash inside the house.