Every time I go get a tattoo, it’s the same thing: I make up my mind, with just the sufficient amount of boldness that will allow me to actually get to the place, I breathe hectically all the way there, I tremble in pain all the way through, and once we’re done, I swear I will never put myself through that again. Well, to me, it’s the same with romantic relationships. But, the interesting part is, when some time has past, I forget all about the suffering, how intense it was or how I wanted to back out midway through, and I somehow manage to gather the strength and the resolution to do it all over again. Because, the truth of the matter is, the pain is no longer there, and all I can see is a beautiful scar that has a deep meaning to me (I swear, I’m not as emo as I’m making myself sound).
Every single significant relationship I have had, has left behind something that no one else can take back: what I make of it. Once you get over the grieving and pull yourself back together, taking a look at your newly acquired wisdom and fresh new version of yourself, you can see how your psyche got imprinted and, consequently, richer. But we want to believe, whether consciously or not, that soul mates exist or, at the very least, that there’s someone out there who will be weird and imperfect and wildly irrational with us. So we drag our already fully stamped souls with us, and we somehow make space for more imprinting, as if we suffered from a horror vacui of sorts.
The other day, I was watching a movie called Café de Flore (2011). I recommend watching it if you believe in the existence of a soul apart from the body, if you believe in reincarnation, in soul mates, and if you are just so passionate about romantic love, that you are in a never-ending quest for its reason to be. Because we know that there’s an actual, scientific explanation for love and, even so, we keep inquiring into and beyond it. I think this is because we become so affected by this feeling, that we can’t truly rationalize all the questions it makes us ask. So, if dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin aren’t convincing enough for you, do watch this movie, and maybe you’ll find your long-looked-for enlightenment. But I warn you, it’s not necessarily a good or hopeful one.
The thing is, sometimes we have to make a choice and try and be consistent as to what it is that we believe in. That can be quite challenging when it comes to certain topics. I, for instance, am not of the religious type, but I do consider myself spiritual. I do believe I have a soul, just not one that will outlive my body. My psyche, my mind, my soul, however I may call it, is a product of my functioning brain, which won’t keep working once I’m dead. Be that as it may, I often find myself contradicting myself, even when I try to be coherent in my beliefs. For instance, when I watched Café de Flore, I suddenly felt I understood everything. But, how could I believe in reincarnation when I don’t even believe in another life after death? “How come you feel so enlightened?”, I asked myself.
This happens becausethe idea of a soul mate is a tempting one. I mean in its whole, utterly spiritual definition. Not just someone who is compatible with you and whom you love, but someone whose soul was actually destined to be with yours. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? It’s so picturesque, that the idea itself has been inspiring artists more and more over the past few decades. But maybe that’s all it is, a lovely piece of art born out of our imagination and made possible by our amazing artistic capabilities. Because we have been telling stories since we were living in caves, and that surely makes for a hell of a story.
We have a love drive, just as we have a sex drive. As a species, we pursuit not only reproduction, but happiness, too. We also know that physical satisfaction is ephemeral, and that love can give us continuous, long-lasting joy (at least for a little longer). This is why, even though some of us don’t believe in soul mates, we still look for that special someone. I think that everything is the sum of fortuitous events, just as Tomas did in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), and that didn’t keep him from loving his girlfriend, Tereza, though he did ascribe little weight to the relationship. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A relationship can be meaningful, and valuable, and weighty, without having to have “es muss sein” imprinted on it.