"Beautiful things can sometimes make us a little sad and it's because what they hint at is the exception..a temporary one.
That is why love simultaneously fills us with melancholy. That's why sometimes I feel nostalgic over something I haven't lost yet: I see its transience.
And so how does one respond to this? Do we love harder? Do we squeeze tighter? Or do we embrace the Buddhist creed of no attachment?
We defy entropy and impermanence with our films and our poems. We hold on to each other a little harder and say 'I will not let go. I do not accept the ephemeral nature of this moment. I am going to extend it, forever.'"
At least, this was my life's philosophy. I lived by feeling to the extreme, to a damaging extent. Often, the knowledge that beauty will pass is hanging right over our heads, and I always repsonded with a passionate fire to burn in all it had to offer while it lasted.
The only thing that got me through the A levels was the confident hope that after that, my relationship would be restored. He would be free from the crazy stress of exam preparation and things would go back to their beautiful state. He'd start talking to me again. We'd have nine months of school-free carefreeness, absolutely free to love and do whatever we wanted, before university started. And that vision of nine months of a perfectly happy relationship kept me going.
The day after the A's he told me that he was going back home and would probably never return to Singapore. He was leaving at the end of the month. And I was distraught but was like, that's fine, we have a month left together, let's make the best of it. Let's love the hardest, dive the deepest, so that when we have to part we know we made the best of the moment.
But he was not like that, and I couldn't understand it. He couldn't dive into the moment of beauty with the knowledge that it was going to end soon - he wouldn't be able to part. And so he said that we should try to slow things down now, just be normal friends, so that when things had to come to a halt it wouldn't be a sudden jerk that killed us.
And so we continued to meet up and text, but there were never any i-love-yous, never any hand-holding or affection. At the end of the twenty days we parted with the first hug in three months.
I am a firm believer in making the most of the moment. Love the hardest, because you don't know when a chance like this will come next.
Well, I'm not sure now. Right now I do try very hard to retreat into non-attachment, an ignorant aloofness, because when you're not attached to something it won't hurt you. The moment I fell for someone early this year, the wave of love's pain hit me again, and I was so afraid. I remembered how much love hurt, and I didn't want any of it anymore. Right now, I anticipate the end of moments of beauty and try very hard to fight my attachment.
Up till very recently this was the way I tried to deal with my friendships. Like, with kev, I knew I was getting too attached to him as a friend; one day I'd have to retreat, and it would crush me. So I started making myself talk less to him and stay in my room and build other friendships to distance myself. This way, when it was time to retreat, I had a mattress to fall back on. There is benefit in good but not crucial friendships. And my philosophy with friendships was that if someone you deem close seems to be losing interest in you, quickly back off first, so that you're not at the losing end. You don't want to be the one left hanging, waiting, alone, while the other has moved on. (Happened in JC; I learnt from it.)
(A lot of the time, the sense of attachment continues to grow anyway despite my efforts at emotional distance, and this just results in both a lot of pain plus an unhealthy amount of self-condemnation.)
But he keeps reassuring me that it's okay. He says I'm his little sister and I can always come round and hang out in his room anytime and he knows that I feel very strongly about him and it doesn't chase him away; it's okay. And now, again, I'm crawling out of the hole I tried to push myself into. I'm trying to allow myself to feel. When the time comes, it comes, and I might have to retreat from this bridge for a while and build bridges elsewhere. It'll hurt. But I'm trying to let myself be okay with that.
I'm not sure what will happen when I fall in love again, though. I'll probably plunge back into pain and self-condemnation and the frenzied retreat to the safe zone of indifference, facilitated by a close analysis of my feelings and convincing myself that I'm not really feeling anything real, it's just a passing infatuation and that allowing myself to let it grow will cause nothing but unnecessary hurt either way. (Not necessarily a bad strategy. It's very helpful.)
throwback: suddenly reminded of one of those late-night chats about memories and whatever again. and i wanted to ask "would you rather love unrequitedly, or not love at all?" but i didn't ask it because i thought the obvious answer was the latter, since unrequited love only brought pain. but when i did decide to ask it he said the first one, because at least in any form of love, there's hope. i was surprised at that moment, but now that i look back, i'm amused at myself instead. i used to strongly advocate the former, because even unrequited love brings in a whole new dimension of colour. it carries its own sheer beauty. (in fact, i DID talk about it before! in 2010, during the year of unrequited love. and then I looked back at it again in 2011, when the relationship did happen but everything was going so badly. lol. [link]) maybe now i'm too tired and scared. it's like you've burned a spot on your skin again and again and even if pink new skin has formed over it, just the thought of setting fire to that area one more time makes you sick.