Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love in the time of cholera

Finally finished this book and even though I didn't really enjoy reading it, it touched on some of the things I spend endless hours wondering and worrying about.

Sole mates -- is there such a thing?
Here we have a young man who falls desperately in love with a girl he hardly knows.  She marries someone else and he spends the rest of his life obsessed with her, waiting for the day he can pledge his undying love to her.  Here's the thing -- at 20 yrs old, how do you really know what love is?  How can you love someone you don't have a relationship with?  How can you love someone that doesn't love you back?  Maybe his love came from her rejection of him.  He loved her because he couldn't have her.  Or maybe he was in love with the idea of a perfect relationship. What if she had in fact loved him back?  Would their love had lasted?  Or would he have eventually become another disappointment, just like her husband.

The insufferable penance of married life
One of my fav quotes in the book: "The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom."  The female protagonists is trapped in a passionless marriage, spends her life in a state of sadness and guilt -- for being unfulfilled and for not being more grateful for the husband who tries desperately to win her affections and make her happy. He gracefully accepts her disappointment in him and even says at one point "Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability".  The book is obviously popular because married ppl can relate.  This is the problem I continue to have with marriage.  The institution turns good relationships bad.  I see it all around me -- the bitterness and contempt my friends have for their spouses.  Where is the love?  You are clearly miserable.  You no longer bring out the best in each other -- you are practically enemies.  I see it this way.  We choose our partners too young -- we don't even know who we are, let alone who is right for us.  And then we spend the rest of our lives chained to this person, trying to make it work because we're not quitters and we have to do what's right by putting our offspring's needs ahead of our own. 'Making it work' builds character.  We resolve ourselves to a boring and miserable married life because "that's just what marriage is".  You are considered disillusioned to expect that your spouse should make your stomach flip flop after 20 yrs of marriage.  Or are you?  Maybe you've just married the wrong person.  And if you meet people with whom you are more compatible later in life it doesn't matter because you've made your choice and you have to live with the consequences and you have to call that commitment 'love'.

Unhealthy obsessive love
The male protagonist was sick with love.  Here's another quote:  "self-absorbed love was revealed to him for what it was: a pitfall of happiness that he despised and desired at the same time, but from which it was impossible to escape."  Self-absorbed is a good way to describe this behaviour.  It's the ego, completely out of control -- obsessed with wanting something to make itself whole.  You can't be at peace when you covet anything.  I felt sorry for the protagonist.  He wasted his life wanting. 

Anyways, it was good to read about emotion -- passion, turmoil, content.  Lots to think about and that's always something I enjoy doing.