As an eighteen year-old girl, I’ve noticed a startlingly common theme among those of my generation: the pursuit of love is at the forefront of young adults’ minds. We are young, we’ve just emerged from adolescence, we’ve graduated from high school and now we’re on the cusp of adulthood with very few responsibilities but all the freedom to take our lives in any direction that we please. And yet…here so many of us are, pining after ‘love’…whatever the hell love actually is.
Love, I’ve deduced, is seen as a magical fix-everything power, a validation of one’s existence and the ultimate joy of life. And in part, I can concur; love is the ultimate joy of life: love of friends, love of family; love of children; love of partners. But the whole concept has become a little confused, in my humble opinion; the notion of unconditional love for family and friends being replaced with the idea that love is primarily found in romantic gestures, honeymoon getaways, dinner dates, kisses and hand-holding. We have bastardised the essence of love’s meaning, looking in all the wrong places (reality) for these idyllic elements of romance and finding all the wrong things (real relationships requiring real effort).
I must confess, I too have nurtured a wonderful daydream of being swept off my feet with a thousand romantic gestures, holding hands and skipping off into the sunset with a sickeningly sweet happy-ever-after. But, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I’ve come to understand that such a scenario, in reality, would either:
- never actuate,
- explode within a month due to a lack of depth,
- drive all my friends away with its nauseating mushiness,
- become boring very quickly,
- perpetuate an unfulfilled feeling due to (as with 2) a lack of depth or
- stir 2, 3, 4 and 5 together to form a revolting cocktail of dissatisfaction.
I sound a little pessimistic, don’t I? But I promise, I’m not. I do believe in this kind of love (in spite of all that I’ve just said) but I know it to be found in a place very different to where we’ve all been looking. We’ve been looking in our postboxes for love letters, to our current partners to suddenly develop a romantic gene or on eHarmony for the perfect partner: we’ve been looking for this kind of love in reality. Haven’t we realised by now that reality will never foster such idyllic little fantasies? If we want sunsets and roses without the nitty gritty aspects of real love, all we need do is plunge ourselves into the wonderful world of fiction!
Hello, Mr Darcy, you look dashing today!
Want a wild and passionate ride to marriage? Want to be the one wooed by the man who never woos? All you have to do is pick up a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Want 365 love letters? Want to dance in the street? Want to share ice cream in summer? Find yourself a copy of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook.
Want love at first sight? Want to be a little impetuous? Want to be whispered sweet nothings to? I’m sure you can find a copy of Shakespeare’s oh-so-famous Romeo and Juliet.
Yes, you don’t need to look very far to find an abundance of tales to quench your thirst for romance. Saturate your reality with unconditional love for your parents and friends and siblings and partners. Fulfil your desire for the cute, the sweet and mushy with wonderful world of books!
So, Happy Valentine’s Day, Mr Darcy!