Sunday, April 9, 2006

Left in the lurch

Be gentle with me, I'd never willingly do you harm

In the movies (not that movies are in any way related to reality) when a protagonist is in love with someone other than their current partner, we wait with bated breath for the lovers to end up together and give little thought to the parter left in the lurch. True love prevails, right?

I am never more profoundly sad during chick flicks than when the heorine leaves the lesser man at the altar. We all cheered when Mary Jane abandoned her wedding to find Peter Parker to tell him she is with him hell or high water, but what about her astronaut? He was a good man. He loved her, and he was good to her and for her.

The problem was that while Mary Jane loved him, he wasn't Peter, and never would be. She was just occupying herself with the astronaut so that she could forget that Peter stood her up during her plays, or that he kept denying his love for her. We applaud her decision because we know they are meant to be together. I applaud her decision because it takes a great amount of courage to realize what is best for yourself, and then to follow through, even if the decision will devestate someone.

Perhaps this is selfish, to sacrifice someone else's feelings in order to pursue your own happiness, but I think that we give so much of ourselves over to making other people happy that it is a greater act of bravery to make a conscious decision to hurt someone very badly. We sacrifice ourselves in so many things, most of the time in our relationships, to avoid hurting the other person.

We think we are being noble and brave, letting ourselves be unhappy for the benefit of others, but I think we forget that this is easy. Everyone does it, and we do it all the time. I bet if you examine your life that you can think of at least one person from whom you are keeping something, whether it is your true feelings about them or information you know would make your life easier but would hurt them if they knew. Now imagine how hard, how incredibly, perhaps impossibly hard it would be to break that. To tell him that you're using him, to tell her that you kissed her boyfriend, to let them know how no one actually cares. You can't, you won't, because it's easier to live in self-inficted misery.

Give some thought to the astronaut in your life, and try to do something about him before you're at the altar, okay?

Safety dance,

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