It’s late July, the stagnant air reeks of hot, decomposing garbage and streets are dotted with rat filled cages. A child can be seen defecating next to a stall selling steamed buns. The buns are cheap so I buy enough to share. You know what stinks more than the residential slums in the heart of Beijing? Love.
I left a tumultuous 11 year-long relationship and found myself in China. I never looked back. A year later I moved to Korea and have been exploring ever since.
When one travels they are either searching for or fleeing from something. Often times it’s love. Korea is no exception. Many of the expats here have either been heartbroken or are hoping to unearth this mysterious experience. If you have yet to travel, what is preventing you from doing so? Do you love your job, your town, or a person? Your cat perhaps? It would seem that love is holding you back from pursuing your adventure. My point is, avoid love at all costs. Other humans in particular.
A good friend of mine recently asked if I believe the quote, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Having been in love I am still a firm believer that love is absolutely a conniving byproduct of human nature’s drive to reproduce. It’s time-consuming and emotionally traumatizing to pursue. I think our social construct of the family unit is meant to keep us complacent and orderly. It also clashes with the biological drive to attract a mate just long enough to raise offspring. This leads to being unfaithful and all the other taboo notions societies have about partnership and companionship. I’ve actually explored this topic extensively. Between my studies in psychology, biology, sociology, art, and my own experience I’ve come to a few conclusions that should further persuade you to heed my advice.
I have discovered that love drastically decreases productivity. While you could be planning your next trip to Japan, you are instead still in bed pressed against another humans’ bacteria riddled flesh incoherently muttering unrealistic claims about your nonexistent future together. You will also see the, “I do what I want” portion of your life pie chart diminish. Imagine how you could be living instead. No compromises. If you feel like snagging a flight deal to the Philippines but you love someone, you may have to talk it over first. That deal just expired. This is assuming you were dumb enough to accept the invitation to be in a traditional relationship. There is no denying it will hold you back if your captor, eh lover, isn’t as interested in traveling. One of you will make a sacrifice to maintain said love and more often than not it will be your adventure that will be left on the shelf to nurture mold spores along with your other ambitions.
If you are currently traveling, congratulations. You either escaped the love prison or avoided it all together thus far. Be warned, you have to continuously be on the lookout for its sly advances. It can seep under the metro doors and bump into you in the form of a charming human or it can perch itself next to you on a park bench during your morning coffee ritual. It has the ability to fry your brain synapses, change your trajectory, and ultimately derail your adventures.
Young people across the globe are redefining the concept of love and the role it plays in their lives. Interpretations of what it means to love and why we do it are becoming unrecognizable to our grandparent’s generation. Holding on tightly to the antiquated union might cause more strife in the long run. On a realistic, evolutionary standpoint the change is beneficial. Notice Japan and Korea’s plummeting birthrate. The population size for the respective size of the country is darn near maxed out. Perhaps not falling in love is nature’s way of slowing the reproduction rate.
On the other hand, love is a muse. She inspires and is the foundation for everything beautiful ever created. The deepest searing pain caused by the heartbreak of unrequited love produces the darkest thought-provoking poems and terribly exquisite paintings. The sickness from a new love leads to sleepless nights which gives birth to unparalleled productivity and strokes of genius. Love is also the root of hate if you think about it. If you love something enough you hate their enemy enough to kill it. We’ve won wars with love and ultimately changed the world with it. It has the power to make weak men brave and lazy men ambitious. Quite the contradiction from the aforementioned assertions. There’s the catch, it could go either way.
“Is it better?”, was the original question. It depends on what you want from life. If you can handle the misery and grief that is a naturally occurring side effect of this nasty biological trick it is better. I do believe it makes you a more dynamic person. The experience leaves you a little more tortured and scarred yet more familiar with the human condition. We are robots without it.
Sometimes I don’t know how to care for my own heart. Should I shroud her in muslin and barbed wire or expose her to the elements to either be gently bathed in warm sunlight or risk the possibility of being crushed by a ruthless tsunami. I like to think people are like tectonic plates. They are forced together by proximity, collide and either form mountains or trenches, create or destroy.
Living in Korea has added a plethora of challenges to this age old question, especially if your heart is too daft to discern between languages. How can a long-term relationship between people who abide by different mores and don’t share the same language thrive? Well, that’s a post on it own. We’re focusing on unpredictable, illogical, ridiculous love. It chooses its victims at random it seems. I know, since it happened to me last week. I was minding my own damn business when I accidentally held my gaze just a little too long and began to feel myself drowning in those beautiful, molasses-filled orbs. I have been trying to claw my way out ever since. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m immune from it since I understand the inner workings. I tamed my heart when I left home and came to Korea. I thought I was safe from the cruelest trick on Earth. Swim bitch, swim!
So, is it better? My misanthropic heart sways. Today I will say it is, indeed better. Now someone please throw me a life vest.