Part of being good at anything is accepting that progress isn’t a lateral, forward process. Most of us lurch in large strides and short limps, leaving parts of ourselves behind or, more often than not, permanently damaging something in the process of moving the rest toward “better.” Whether it’s learning to cook healthfully or learning to express emotions fairly the end result is always a little less pretty and perfect that it was expected to be at the start.
If our minds gave us a realistic projection of the outcome in any endeavor, though, we’d likely never undertake anything in life. The rose-colored glasses aren’t so much a lie as they are a necessary omission; the mind needs to trick itself to persevere.
Honestly, the human mind is a weird little fucker. It can at best destroy and at worst learn to accept any level of dissonance, finding meaning in even the most dire situations. It can remember moments from childhood but forgets the three things it was supposed to get at the grocery store. It seems to randomly decide which damage it will hang on to forever, and which it will immediately repair and move on from, particularly when it comes to matters of the heart.
Since this isn’t ancient Egypt it’s understood that the “heart” is actually just a part of the the brain, and romantics might argue that the one area where the mind makes constant progress is in matters of the heart. We chose to do and say things a little differently because of how they turned out last time, or know when our hearts should be protected and when they should be open.
At least, we try to know. That’s what the romantics tell me.
I’m not sure if I agree with these romantics, though. I’m not a god damn scientist and I’m too hungover to Google the details right now, but whichever part of the brain is in charge of handling the ethereal urges of desire and companionship seems to be the one responsible for the most fuckery. The “heart” can convince the brain to stay with a person who physically abuses you – and this is the part of us we allow to drive the majority of our decisions?
Call me a pessimist but I’ll take the pragmatic road any day. That’s not to say I’m not one for romantic gestures – I once gifted a boy who was my friend a package of pudding with some cute note about him being “sweet” in an attempt to get him to be my boyfriend (he accepted) (we were teenagers so it didn’t work out) – but gestures aren’t something to live life by.
Consider Gatsby, a truly hopeless romantic whose personality was described as a series of successful gestures. He got shot in a swimming pool at the end.
I’ve seen what can come of a life lived only by the urges of love. If you watch Game of Thrones then you have, too. But the mind, that tricky little fuck, can repair any dent or crack in the heart. It will move on from what was fought for and lost.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t fight.