by Joan Duhaylungsod
I was lollygagging at Starbucks, down Time Square, New York, one morning last week. Sipping my favourite Caramel Macchiato, I watched the people, from blondes, to browns and blacks, walking fast and in a hurry, as though they were about to miss the last ride of their lives, to take them to their destination.
Are they catching up a business meeting, or almost late for a job interview? In a place like New York, you see busy people and a fast-paced life. On a typical working day, you see men and women, usually clad in their black suits, projecting an image of confidence and sagacity. They seem to be the type of people who rather check on stock market updates, rather than take time to appreciate the blue skies of urban Manhattan, or just marvel on how different nationalities continuously co-mingle in the place despite their diversities.
It makes me wonder though, whether or not, behind their smart-ass personalities, are men and women who have laughed or cried, and have fallen in love. I actually think they have. Well, we all do. But when you are dumb, and you cry about love, it is an expected. However, if you are smart and you shed tears, wasted a lot of Kleenex, and turned out a different person than you used to be, because of love, it is a story to tell.
So how do smart people fall in love? Back in college, I was in a circle of “smart” and “geeky” fellows, who thought much of graduating with Latin Honors, winning competitions, and pushing through World Peace (this one though is plain exaggeration). I saw them playing their cards so well. They were the ones who could solve the most difficult Math problem, trace accurately the most complex pathophysio of a certain disease, revive the dying organizations in school and in the community, and win debates despite the awful badgering of the opposing teams. Talk about dreams, they have it. Talk about passion to realize their dreams, they have it, overflowing even.
Then they fell in love. That was when I see a 180-degree shift of them. From the kind who used to overwork their cerebrum, now, to giving it some remission, and letting their hearts govern the different intricacies of their lives, which is actually permissible, as it is a human experience still. But the changes, are they ever so obvious? We start to like romantic songs, and decipher every line of the stanza there is. I, for one, indulge myself to making poetry and writing my emotions, or singing my heart out loud. We begin to get cheesy, but it’s okay. We loosen up, and now tolerate love tales, when before, we could not put up with it. In some extreme scenarios though, smart people just offer too much. Some girls could write theses for their boyfriends, some men starve to death just to buy their girlfriends jewelry for a present, stay up late just to give their partners company, and let go of a dream or change a plan just to accommodate the relationship. While some have a happy ending to their love stories, unfortunately some just end up crying helplessly, because of a love unrequited and a relationship which turned out to be far different from the stories they read in the pocketbooks.
Smart people can be dumb when it comes to love, yes. But I guess we all do. We become dumb in the sense that we opt to let our hearts work and devoid ourselves with logic. Not that our hearts our dumb, but more often than not, hearts just recognize the feelings, and won’t care much about the “what ifs”. This is what I think Scott Peck talked about in his book, “The Road Less Travelled”. In the discussion about the myth of falling in love, Peck explained that at one point, there’d be a collapse of ego boundaries between two people, and that’s when things seem so perfect, and the world looks so lovely. We all go through this, and I bet, this is one of the best phases in the process, that we continue to savour and reminisce.
But why do some worst love stories usually happen to “smart” people? Well I could be wrong, but here’s my little theory. Perhaps it is partly due to a denial that the relationship is falling apart already. Yet, “competitive” as they are, they tend to save it by just giving more, and them becoming lesser, than they were before. Then eventually feelings grow tired, and that’s when they realized that they were “stupid”. They could just have let go and moved on, instead of dwelling with it. I remember my brother telling me that smart people should know that love is not an accomplishment, or say, far different from the accomplishments of career, school, or business. I believe he has a point there. Human relationships are much more complex than just perfecting a ten-item quiz, or impressing your boss at work. Human relationships demand you to be kind and selfish— kind in the sense that human relationship is shared; and selfish, as it should not make anyone become less of a person, rather, it should make people grow and be better.
Smart people are still capable of falling in love, and if they do fall for the right person, things do not look stupid, rather, sweet. Smart people are still capable of loving and being loved. After all, we’re human beings needing affection. I guess it is love that makes smart people pause for a while in the middle of work, and do some wishful thinking. It is the same thing that makes someone see the beauty of the blue sky in Manhattan, or in some place in the globe.
Now pardon me for being mushy here, but hey, it’s February! Happy Hearts Month and spread love, everyone.