Selected Article

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stop romanticizing life, this is the real world !

You know those nice little concepts that we're raised with, that make life seem so beautiful and romantic ?
You know those nice little concepts that we're raised with, that make life seem so beautiful and romantic ? Did you ever stop to think that in spite of being theoretically sound, they might actually capture life under an exaggerated romantic light and prove to be utterly useless in reality ?

What if I told you that they actually do more harm than good ? Today I'm taking on all those saying that we decide to live by simply because they "sound nice" ! Well.. maybe not all of them, this is a blog post not an encyclopedia after all.

Let's start off with my favorite:

If you love someone set them free. If they don't come back, they were never yours to begin with.

I'm pretty sure everybody knows this one. This little concept managed to find its way into movies, songs, books.. you name it, and yet it seems a small detail without which this wouldn't work in real life has always been left out : You have to know who's letting the other go.

Picture this: Alice and Bob are madly in love. One night they have an ugly fight like they've never had before with insults, broken dishes, screaming, punching, you name it. Once there's nothing left to be broken, they go their separate ways..

The next morning Bob and Alice look back at the incident in their own separate intimate rooms. "Boy that fight got blown out of proportion. Maybe I should call and patch things up". Being the hopeless romantics that they are, this option automatically flies out the window, and the "If you love someone set them free" idea creeps into their thoughts. Of course no couple is complete without a healthy dose of ego, and so each one of them manages to get it into their own head that they have actually set the other free, and that the only true way for things to work out is if the other were to "come back".

And so begins The Waiting.

Alice and Bob were madly in love with each other. In fact, they were meant to be together if there is such a thing. Alas, hopeless romanticism came into play and blew the whole thing. After waiting a few days, they started getting mad at each other, then after a few weeks, they started missing each other but felt that perhaps it wasn't meant to be since neither of them had re-initiated contact with the other. After a few months, Alice met a nice guy and eventually they started dating. Bob was always kinda creepy so he remained single for a while, and a happy ending is averted. Pretty cool huh ?

Okay I know, relationships are hard. But how about a romanticized view of everyday interaction with random people ? How could this possibly go wrong ? Here's one:

Karma: what you give is what you get returned

Ah what a beautiful one that is, encouraging people to be nice to each other and live in harmony.. I have to admit I do treat people as I would like to be treated myself. We're all suckers for cool concepts, and I'm no exception. But there's a catch:

Today you were mean to John. It's no big deal, John had it coming, he's a bit of a douche-bag to be honest. He'd been mean left and right and every chance he got. What he gave, he did indeed get returned, thanks to you.

Hold it for a second there. What if you didn't know John, and were mean to him for no good reason today ? You had a rough morning, and you just happened to take it out on him. He's still a douche-bag, and you're still the Karma delivery service, so to speak. But then, shouldn't your behavior, regardless of what John's been up to lately, be reprehensible ? Didn't you, by giving John what he had coming, get some bad karma points as well ? You did give the guy hell, and so, you should technically get it returned, right ?

Well here's the good news: The poor idiot who's going to give you hell, unaware that he's paying you back for what you just did to John is going to pay for it too, soon enough.

Have you heard of the snowball effect ? If karma is really the way the world works, it would explain a lot of the shoving going on in metros around the world, not to mention all the honking and drivers cutting each other off on the streets. One thing it would probably NOT achieve on the other hand, is "helping people be nicer to each other". I'm pretty sure a collar that zaps you whenever you're not nice would work better. Of course there's the off-chance of some occasional zap-fetishism develops in society, but aggregately it's likely to result in a more civil world than the one we live in today.

Here's what I'm getting at: Life is messy, chaotic, beautiful yet dirty on the sides. You might think some aspects of the world don't live up to your expectations... Well get over it! Life is not a romantic comedy, and if you're looking for answers you should probably look further than a fortune cookie.

Recommended media: Dan in Real Life (movie)

Disclaimer: As you might have noticed, this is not an altogether serious post, but I do recommend the movie. Cheers !


April 21, 2011 at 10:04 AM J C

That's an idea for a book...that sadly no one will read because avoiding reality is something human beings have perfected...

Great one! : )

April 21, 2011 at 1:07 PM Reza

I liked the first part but I have to somewhat disagree with "Karma" thing. If I recall correctly, if you do something bad, like being mean to somebody, karma will pay you back but not necessarily in the same way. You might catch a cold or twist an ankle or get a flat tire or you might even drink an expired milk, without knowing this is the result of your bad doings.

What I think encourage people to be nice to each other is this concept:
"Treat people the way you want them to treat you!"

May 17, 2011 at 5:07 PM Danielle

Good read man, I love these pieces. I gotta agree with you on your points! I think we use those two "little concepts" whenever they suit us most. Don't you? I've only used the former when I wanted to go, and the latter when something bad happens to someone I didn't like..

So there ya go!

January 12, 2013 at 9:20 AM Anonymous

That's not romanticizing life - romanticizing life is thinking that life is a bowl of cherries; i.e., failing to see the down-side. Those quips you are talking about are simply good general advice and you have to use some discretion and judgment as to when they should be used.

May 27, 2016 at 5:46 PM Unknown

This article is spot on and vocalizes everything I think about this way of thinking. :)

August 15, 2017 at 11:59 PM Unknown

Spot on! I died at "bob was always kind of creepy " Lmao

post a comment

Recently On Topic