I have come to believe the mantra my mother used to repeat to me as a child, though I resented it at the time: we’re not here to be happy; we’re here to change things for the better in the ways that we can.
I suppose I’ve also come to believe that there’s no real meritocracy. Not everyone can be rich; not everyone, no matter how lovely, good, or gifted, will succeed professionally. We grow up hearing that we can do anything we want to do; as adults, the world generally disabuses us of this notion in ways either gentle or cruel (this makes truthful parenting a tricky proposition, but that’s a subject for another time). And yet, egged on by our culture, we continue to believe that there is a meritocracy of sorts in love. The good will be loved; the lovely will be loved; through hard work, prayer, or perhaps serendipity, it will happen for us, just as it appears to have happened for those couples we see whose marriages seem like overflowing fountains of the bliss that I just advised you not to follow. But just as not everyone can be rich, or good, or attractive, or talented in the same measures, why should we believe that everyone can achieve the same kind of blissful romantic or married love? After all, it was Woody Allen who rationalized his seduction of his de facto stepdaughter with the immortal words “The heart wants what it wants.” I suspect that for many people, love is work, even backbreakingly, or heartbreakingly, hard work.
On the other hand, perhaps I am just a cynical person. Sometimes I worry that years of struggle have calcified my heart a little.
Cynicism arises at the exact point where you argue with yourself over whether to post an item like this or not, and one of the arguments turns out to be “Sooner or later the government, in its quest to remedy all ‘disparate impacts’ regardless of cause, will mandate the acquisition of lovers.” Now that’s my idea of a pre-existing condition — and a subtle innuendo, if you look sideways at that word “mandate.”
As for the calcification issue, I live with dust on my heart.