Illustration by Andrea Nebhut
I’ve grown up with the words “con amor no vas a vivir,” or “with love alone you’ll never survive,” echoing through my house while I wrote love stories that mirrored anything but my parents relationship.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on whether my love life is meaningful enough. So many of us love romance films only for our lives to be anything but romantic. If the human animal were as creative as it claimed to be, then wouldn’t romance be a result of this creativity?
In a 1940 film called “The Blue Bird,” Mytyl, played by Shirley Temple, and her younger brother go on a journey to find the bluebird of happiness. Throughout the film, they visit the past, travel to the land of luxury, navigate a spooky forest and even visit the land of the unborn.
In the land of the unborn, Mytyl and her brother meet the unborn, creative children who will go on to innovate fundamental contributions such as amnesia and vaccines. Later we meet two older children who are weeping in each other’s arms. They are distraught because although they are soulmates, they won’t be born into the world at the same time, and thus will live their romantic lives unfulfilled. While that scene is undeniably heartbreaking, especially once it is time for the boy to be born without his soulmate, those two characters in their little time together were the most fulfilled in the entire film because they prioritized love over fear.
A lot of us are afraid to be vulnerable because we’re afraid of rejection. While we aren’t entitled to people’s affection, we are obliged to make sure that we live our romantic lives daringly. After all, will any of the fear or embarrassment that comes with risk taking matter when we’re dead? People often think this is a dramatic question, but it’s true.
So what if you thought you looked silly by admitting your feelings, one day our brains won’t even have the capacity to remember. We’ll be too busy being dead which is why we should occupy our time being alive and doing things that make us feel alive. Rejection shouldn’t be an attack on our ego, instead we should recognize that it is a fact of life. Not everyone will reciprocate our feelings, nor will it be the end of the world when they don’t, nor does our self worth depend on their approval or rejection.
We should also be more honest with our words. Instead of telling people that their shirt complements their eyes or their smile brightens our day we simplify it to “you look nice.” Of all the words in all the languages, “good” or “nice” hardly do justice to what we truly mean to express.
We should send fewer text messages and write more poems, buy more flowers and pick our words more carefully. I’m not saying you should write a poem for every person you think is attractive — that’d be exhausting and most of the poems would be disingenuous anyway. We should encourage love more often, for everyone.
There’s no point in saving all the brave and kind words for someone’s funeral when they can’t hear it anymore. There’s no point in regrets if you had the opportunity. Romance isn’t dead, love isn’t dead, and we aren’t dead.
My parents failed relationship should have been enough to convince me that love and romance aren’t real. Instead it encouraged me to seek fulfillment through love and human connection; and just like in “The Blue Bird,” I didn’t have to search any further than my own heart.