Saturday, January 28, 2012

Courting, part 2 - romance isn't dead it just needs a rest

On reflection, my last post contained a certain amount of bullshit.

Self-indulgent words dripping from a papercut heart. They were true words based largely on passing angsty feelings. 'Fight or flight' is still an instinctive response to many situations outside my comfort zone.

And, wonderful as it is, courting is out there past the boundary - initially. It's a good place to be for me though. For the potential stress it's an enlivening distraction. But in the end romance is a hallucinatory drug.

Still, I'm naturally a romantic tragic - a lot like Owen Wilson's character in Midnight in Paris. Not all bad - like him I don't understand why people see walking in rain as an inconvenience rather than a thing of natural beauty. And, for all his apparent delusions, he seems more in tune with reality than the pragmatic, pretentious arseholes around him who can't see beauty beyond comfort and luxury, and therefore miss the treasures beyond the shallows.

But I can see that a lot of the time romance is a cherry-picked montage of smiles and happiness that lets sentiment fill gaps that really included a lot of boredom, frustration, restlessness and nostalgia. I look back on my teenage years with fondness and forget all the anxiety-induced trauma that dogged me most days, which is fine as long as I don't pretend that wasn't there as well. Romance is nice and has it's place, but can be an escape from the present, which is really all you've ever really got.

Two things led me here. The first was reading a friend's blog post on affection and romance. The second was the realisation - really, I already knew - that I was intentionally shaping my personality for the girl I was courting; from shirts I wore to what I'd say in front of her (such as tranquilising the political animal in me because she doesn't seem to greatly share my interest in it). I didn't want to play it badly, I was being a dreamer.

"Romance is [can be] the seed to heartbreak". Putting on a performance to impress a girl saps mental energy, with planning, over-analysis and second guessing. Being yourself merely takes courage. Courage in the face of your own - overblown - insecurities and a world of individuals who sometimes forget that's what they are. It's a judgemental world, but one with a lot of damn good people in it. Letting others see who you really are is the only way to attract genuine people.

Most people are naturally uncomfortable with openness - that's why we wait until loved ones die to say all the things about them that we should say while they're around. So it's easy to get caught up in the act. Just because I believe in being open doesn't mean I'm always goo at it.

While romance tends to ignore the inconveniences, truth and beauty celebrates accept and even celebrate the neccessary ones. Life is perfectly imperfect. Romance is enjoyable and worthwhile but it's delusional without perspective. The couples who survive have a deeper, more meaningful connection to fall back on when the honeymoon is over.

Wear the Graveyard Train t-shirt to work on casual Friday - if people like it there's potential for a connection, if they don't get it there's potential for exploration, if they think it's weird they're judgemental and can fuck off. (Is that judgemental?)

So yeah, I've realised in the past week that courting can actually be an enjoyable experience if you let go of the doubt, believe in who you are, don't get hung up on this one girl because the ones that give you that feeling don't come by all that often but enjoy feeling it and learn from it if it doesn't work out. I really like this girl and I hope we establish a deeper connection - as two mild introverts it's a gradual process - but you can't (and shouldn't be able to) make that happen.

And it's a great opportunity to test out the old methods for managing my anxiety and get better at them. This week it's working. Things are great.

Like so much else in life - starting a new job, giving a a presentation, stupidly doing a half-marthon, getting married, etc, etc - you can't know how it's going to play out. Worrying about it makes nothing better, just steals an opportunity to enjoy one of life's amazing experiences.

Yes, Joe Wilson, make the most of your courting days. And if it doesn't work out, make the most of your single days. You never know what is right around the corner. And, eventually, enjoy your married days with the odd reminiscence about the old life - for it's thrills and hurts.

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