“Compatibility is an achievement of love. It cannot be its precondition.”
– Alain de Botton
In observance of Valentines Day, I’m writing on love.
I was driving around this weekend to my various parties and events and managed to catch a bit of Krista Tippett’s podcast On Being. Every since I’ve moved to Austin, I’ve listened to next to zero podcasts due to the lack of time (most importantly, the lack of driving time). Living in Southern California forced me to be on the road for at least 20 minutes every time I got in the car, so I had plenty of opportunities to catch up on different podcasts. Now, I’d be happy if I can get 15 minutes of one podcast in. No complaints though. I’m enjoying my short time on the road.
This past week, my 15 minute moment of podcast listening was an interview of Krista Tippet with Alain de Botton, the author of one of the most viewed essays in New York Times in 2016. His essay was called “Why You will Marry the Wrong person.” Fascinating and thought-provoking essay.
During this time of the year, hearts are all around us. Valentines Day has become a commercial holiday in which restaurants and shops ponder how they can make even more money from us this year. Many in relationships expect gifts and grand gestures from their respective lovers, and those single celebrate galantines day or single awareness day.
This year, I propose each and every one of us to think about our perception of love. With the influence of media, books, and pretty much everything under the sun, we have this ideal of what love it – the romantic gestures, conflict-less, butterflies in our stomach and happily ever after. Yet, realistically, love is much more difficult than that.
Love takes work. Love requires acknowledgment and acceptance that the other is simply human, with flaws, fears and everything in between but the funny thing about love is that the closer you get to someone, the easier their flaws start to frustrate you. Take families’ for example, we don’t choose who our families are, we are simply “thrown together with a group of people who you would never pick if you could simply pick on the grounds of compatibility.” Thus, giving us the very first on-going test of our lives: How do we love those who drive us crazy?
“We must fiercely resist the idea that true love must mean conflict-free love, that the course of true love is smooth. It’s not. The course of true love is rocky and bumpy at the best of times. That’s the best we can manage as the creatures we are. It’s no fault of mine or no fault of yours; it’s to do with being human. And the more generous we can be towards that flawed humanity, the better chance we’ll have of doing the true hard work of love.”
– Alain De Botton
With the ease of anonymity on the internet these days, it becomes considerably more difficult to choose love; to acknowledge that love stumbles, survives, evolves and deepens over time and the process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about the other.
Today, let’s make a conscious choice to choose love. Humanity depends on it. And it’s up to us to teach the future generations what love requires.
Happy Valentines Day, 2017.