A conditioned pursuit

From a young age we are taught to pursue love. Beginning with the schoolyard chant:

first comes love,

then comes marriage

then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

But always, first, comes love. And we get older, develop crushes and start dating, we realize that “love” is one of the most complicated words we’ll ever learn, and what we’re taught to want, seems to fall apart.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert on something. Think about all the hours you’ve spent in the pursuit of love. Agonizing over that text message, lying in a sleeping bag, eyes fixed on an unfamiliar ceiling as other girls giggled and whispered around you and your best friend asked if you “like liked” anyone. First dates, second dates, third dates. Hours spent swiping right, reading profiles, sending that first tentative, awkward message.

It adds up. Day by day, we’re trying to become experts in love. Because we’re taught that love is what you fight for, love is what you dream about, hell, even “all you need is love”.

But what if it’s not?

Imagine taking all that time you spent in the pursuit of love and put it towards becoming really good at something else. Learning a language, writing a novel, studying the economy of Micronesia, developing the absolute perfect chocolate cake recipe, whatever it is. Imagine being an expert. Knowing more about something than most people in the world. Having all of that knowledge and skill just tidily packaged up in your brain.

And as romantic culture evolves, as we drift towards a noncommittal “hookup culture”, we don’t even invest our time in one person. It’s sporadic, superficial. We avoid profound human connection is lieu of convenience and protecting our own fragile heart. All that time wasted that could be spent on the pursuit of greatness.

If you want to pursue love, fall in love with yourself. Fall in love with the possibility of who you could be or what you could become, what you can do.

Is there anything more romantic than that?

One response to “A conditioned pursuit”

  1. As a wise poet once said, “me thinks there is an old shrew who lives inside of me, stewing her bile while cackling in the night”. I understand this post and wish to overcome my onerous side, and become light and playful, like a small hamster. Very nice.


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