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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Eternal Search

Of late I've been observing people in love. People who claim to be in love, people falling out of love, people who grew to love each other, people who were in love earlier, but not anymore etc. And I've been thinking. I've been thinking what is it? what is it that makes us fall in love and experience the whole gamut of emotions that we feel? what is it that makes us go through all the longing and joy and pain of finding, having or losing someone? is it the desire to be appreciated for what we are? or is it the desire to live the moments which we, so many times live in our minds but seldom in real life? or it is plain inherent animal instinct of finding a mate, a companion, and in the larger context, of securing ourselves by building a group of similar individuals?

I think it's different things for different people. In fact, the definition of love varies across age groups, cultures, societies, and individual experiences. Asking a young college goer about love, you're more likely to get a response laced with romanticism as compared to a middle aged couple who have known each other through the years and have grown to love each other despite, or probably because of their individual idiosyncrasies. When we fall in love, depending upon which demographic bracket we fall into, we look for different things in our partner. when we are younger, we look for good looking partners as sexual activity is very much on our minds. Good looks, on a psychological level, send signals of physical well being and fertility to our minds which are very essential for sexual gratification and reproduction. as we grow older, we start looking for things like emotional security, like-mindedness and financial support. But in a typical Indian society, where monogamy is essentially a way of life, how do people find all these qualities in the same person at different stages of life? To elaborate a little on this, how is it that we find sexual pleasure when we are young, emotional and financial security when we are in the middle age and mutual respect when we grow old, all in the same man or woman? does this mean that all of us have all these qualities in us and show them as and when required? Or does it mean that the concept of a happy, contented monogamous couple is a facade?

i think that the answer lies somewhere in between the two extremes. though there are all the qualities of being a good partner in all of us, we need to accept the fact that nobody is perfect and work towards being a better person in order to sustain a relationship. if we take the partner for granted, as it is likely to happen in case of Indian couples where there is virtually no way out of a marriage (unless there is a criminal angle), the spark dies down. you start getting used to the presence of a person in your life and grow affectionate towards him or her probably in the same way you'd love a piece of old furniture or clothing. of course you have moments in your memory that you will cherish, but you still feel that there is a gap somewhere.

That indirectly also brings us to the whole business of finding the right partner. In the current Indian scenario, though there's a huge shift in the thinking of people towards all things, marriages still remain an arranged deal for most of us. due to various factors influencing the selection of a partner by an individual, going strictly by personal choice is virtually impossible. there are too many people hurt, too many plans shattered and too many adjustments to be made if you try to break away from the norm. so is it best to just wait for things to happen? or rather, just wait for the right 'deal' to come along? my answer would be - no matter what happens in future, your present is all yours. If you venture outside, you might fall badly but if you stay inside, you may never know all the horizons waiting to be explored. so decide what you want to do with today, and do it. because in life, i have learnt through experience, it's not the things that we did that hurt, its the things that we wish we could have done, but didn't.

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