How true it is, that your most true friends are those that stick by you in your worst moments. I’ve certainly had plenty of those bad Kodak snapshots. But of course, no one really gets to see them. I’m like the typical guy – not exactly emotionally shut down to the point of being stoic, but just, well, averse to showing too much emotion to others. Sometimes, I just hate talking about my problems.
I remember there was once I felt deflated on the train. I was with my girlfriend and were journeying to Bedok. I fell into a silent depression because of a problem, ignoring her and everything else. Of course, she being the talkative one became naturally distressed. She held my hand, shook it, and tried to bring me out of my funk. But I ignored her, and soon she fell silent.
Admittedly, I didn’t feel bad for her; because I was too busy feeling bad about myself. We sat at Bedok train station not speaking to one another for about an hour. Soon, she cried. Yes, she did. It was one of those moments where she actually cried in front of me. And yet I ignored her.
But she stuck there by me, held on to me. The trains passed by, one after another, but she was there. People came and went, but we sat there, as if set in stone. At last, she spoke, and I finally responded. Somehow, my mood was suddenly lifted, and I felt better. There was no magic formula, no secret potion. She was simply, there.
Well, maybe there was a formula after all, it was called love. Maybe that’s all there is to love – being there. Being present. In both good times and bad.
Love, I could say, is the tenderness of her hands, cupped in mine and fitting snugly like a puzzle. It is the warmth of her hug melting the blizzard within me, her heart pounding against mine. It is her concerned voice, set against my deadpanned silence, never giving up on me, gently nudging me against the inertia of my sadness.
She cheers me up with her effervescent laughter and quirky cuteness. Her absence leaves an imprint in my heart, my mind saturating itself with fond thoughts.
Sometimes, I wonder, how long can the love last? Is love like mist, heavy in the morning, but gone by noon? And like the morning mist, does it blind the the picnickers who sets themselves down on a grass field who thinks the scenery is splendid, when in fact an epiphany of horror awaits them just hours later? Love is a gamble, just like how life is. You throw the dice, not knowing what the outcome is. Though we may all play to win, we all know there can only be one victor.
Are we in a state of denial, entrapping ourselves in a bubble of confidence much like a sprinter at the start of the race? Are we not aware of the truth that not all make it to the finish line? I wonder, and I doubt. Perhaps it is futile thinking about the outcome. Perhaps it is better to live in the now, to enjoy the giddiness of our love. Perhaps we should be content to bask in the glories of the present, enjoying the illogical adoration we have for one another. Perhaps the process is more important than the end result.
If love, as I said, is about being there for one another, then perhaps the process is all that matters. We laugh at the intricacies of our words and actions, we cheer at each other’s successes, and we are downtrodden at each other’s failures. Process is a matter of feeling alive, feeling like we matter, like we have a companion who will stick with us for life.
Love causes us to feel alive. It is a present feeling, not a past feeling or a future one. It is a privileged feeling, for not all have the chance to be hugged, to hear that whisper in the ear, and to be admired in all our marvelous imperfections. It is funny how some chemical processes in the brain can be so described in such vivid terms.
If it is all just an illusion, then let us dwell in it vivaciously! Let us never escape the poems and the songs and the prose and the stories that bless the magnanimity of love! Let us be drunk in declaring our effusive praises, in belting out our melodies of adoration, and in frolicking the temples of playful lasciviousness! For it is our escape from the harshness of life and a haven from which we emerge stronger. Love is a necessary illusion, sustaining us and keeping us alive.
Yes, love can hurt; in fact sometimes it hurts more than it heals. It scars and scotches. Once you’re bitten, it can be hard to recover. But like a game, it is a gamble: for without the risks, there can be no great reward. Remember how I mentioned about the mist? While it is gone by noon, it will always come back the next day. It is a mirage, yet it is real. You can’t really see it, but it’s there. You can feel it. It is warm. It breathes. It speaks to you, and reaches out to you.
So let us revel in it this Valentine’s Day.